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Wal-Mart donates food, cash to fight hunger

November 19, 2008

Wal-Mart is partnering with Feeding America, the largest charitable hunger-relief organization in the United States, to provide 70 million meals annually to families and individuals who are struggling to put food on the table during the toughest economic downturn in decades.

The move from the world’s largest retailer comes as U.S. food banks are seeing donations fall short of demand.

Wal-Mart has committed to providing an estimated 90 million pounds of food annually – the equivalent of 70 million meals – to families in need by the end of 2009. It is also making a $2.5 million cash donation that has been earmarked to upgrade warehouses and to buy 20 new refrigerated trucks to transport food from Wal-Mart stores to food pantries, soup kitchens and other agencies affiliated with Feeding America, formerly named America’s Second Harvest.

“Given the current state of the economy and the increased burden on neighborhood food pantries and soup kitchens, we are enlisting our entire network of stores and clubs to participate in this food donation program to provide relief to communities throughout the country,” said Bill Simon, chief operating officer of Wal-Mart U.S.

“Today, with the help of Wal-Mart, we take a huge step forward in helping feed the millions of Americans who live at risk of hunger,” said Vicki Escarra, president and chief executive officer of Feeding America.

In a recent survey, 99 percent of Feeding America’s food banks said demand for food in communities across the U.S. has risen by 15 to 20 percent over the last year alone. Many food banks have reported even higher increases in demand – some with requests for food growing by 50 percent in the last year.

Feeding America’s major donors include Wal-Mart, Kraft Foods, Campbell’s Soup Co, ConAgra Foods, and Kroger.

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