Walmart wows ’em

Huge news from Arkansas–Walmart just announced it would donate a whopping $2 billion in food and cash to help the hungry.

That total includes $1.75 billion of in-kind food donations that presumably are slightly blemished items and foods nearing or at their sell-by date.

Given the retailer’s size–4,300 U.S. outlets (including Sam’s Clubs)–when Walmart acts, it’s on a massive scale. Given those two figures, that means the average store will donate 700 pounds per day. That number is a bit misleading because donations will come from massive distribution centers, too. Yet it hints at how much food is deemed expendable on a daily basis.

Best of all, the donations are to include those harder-to-get items for food banks:

Of the food Wal-Mart has donated so far this year, about 28% was fresh produce and roughly 25% was meat, fish or dairy items, the company said.

This news, coupled with Walmart’s zero-food-waste-to-landfill initiative now underway (and myriad other green moves) leads me to this improbable statement: Walmart is leading the way in reducing and responsibly handling its food waste. Never thought I’d be typing those words, but I’m happy to do so.

The store was already doing a fair amount for hunger, after ending its lame reversal on donating unsellable goods.Yet, this move puts the Bentonville boys in nice company and possibly alone at the top, given their might. Now, if they’ll only continue their burgeoning move toward local and sustainable food.

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