Wal-Mart Reinstates Food Donations

Big food waste news: Wal-Mart will donate 91 million pounds of fresh food to Feeding America (née America’s Second Harvest). The program is an expansion of an earlier pilot donation program.

What The Times article doesn’t say and Wal-Mart is happy to sweep under the rug, is that some of its stores used to donate their edible but unsellable food before the retailer banned these donations in 2006 (undercover news video). They decided instead to donate money to various food banks.

photo by code poet (via Creative Commons)I’m glad to hear that they’ve reconsidered.

On the plus side, it seems like Wal-Mart will now make more of a company-wide effort to facilitate donations. It’s also great news that they will focus on protein and fresh produce, two of the hardest things for food banks to get.

The timing is ideal, too, as food banks are really struggling with increased client demand and decreased donations. Plus, the holiday season is ramping up. Then again, I’m sure the publicity possibilities from the timing of the announcement were not lost on Wal-Mart.

A quick look at the numbers: 91 million pounds of food. 4,100 Wal-Marts and Sam’s Clubs. That amounts to about 60 pounds of donations per store per day, which isn’t amazing for a supermarket pickup. But the sheer number of Wal-Marts means that any donations are likely to have a major impact.

Let’s be clear: Yes, Wal-Mart will soon be doing the right thing. I just don’t think they should be exalted for reversing a ban on donations.

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