Holiday Spirit?

Playing the role of Scrooge this (and most every) year, is Wal-Mart.

St. Louis’ KMOV-TV recently ran a great piece of investigative journalism on just how much food is wasted at Wal-Mart and Sam’s Clubs. The station went inside the belly of the beast and got some fascinating hidden camera footage.

The piece smartly details how numerous stores donate food to pantries and food banks before showing how Wal-Mart doesn’t. There’s a nice “Sell-by” date explanation, before we get to the blurry-faced Wal-Mart employees throwing away food once it reaches or surpasses its sell-by date. Plus, we find out that there’s a Missouri grocery chain called Schnucks!

I know Wal-Mart makes an easy target. In this case, though, they deserve to be criticized for tossing food they know is perfectly good. They used to allow their stores to donate food, but prohibited it almost two years ago (interesting discussion here). At the same time, Wal-Mart made a big donation to America’s Second Harvest to distract attention from their official policy of throwing out perfectly good food.

Wal-Mart and other non-donors often say they’re afraid of being sued if someone were to get sick from a donation. Even though donors are redundantly shielded from liability by state and federal law (and have been since the 1996 federal Good Samaritan Act), Wal-Mart is afraid of negative publicity in such a suit.

Well, here’s some bad publicity for not donating! I’d be happy to give credit where credit’s due if Wal-Mart reverses policy, as the video says they might. It would certainly be a timely change, in light of the season and many food banks’ shortages.

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