As Wal-Mart explores opening stores in the five boroughs, its foundation announced it will donate nearly $383,000 to the Food Bank for New York City.
The grant is part of a $2 million donation to 16 food banks to help them save money through lower energy bills. The funds will help the food banks implement low-cost upgrades to lighting, refrigeration, heating and air conditioning in order to lower energy costs as well as use less natural resources.
In addition to New York City, other recipients are located in Portland, Ore., and Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
“Every dollar these food banks save on energy costs is another dollar they can use to help meet the hunger needs of their local communities,” said Margaret McKenna, president of the Wal-Mart Foundation in a press release.
New York City’s food bank distributes food to nearly 1,000 groups across the city that in turn provide free meals to 400,000 in-need New Yorkers a day.
“In addition to helping reduce operating costs, these improvements will make the Food Bank a more environmentally friendly organization—something that is very important to us,” said Lucy Cabrera, the CEO of the city’s food assistance nonprofit, in the same press release.
Over the past three years, Wal-Mart has donated $9 million to numerous organizations in New York City, including a $80,000 donation to the food bank. Other beneficiaries include $2 million to the National Urban League and $925,000 to the Children’s Health Fund.
Opponents of Wal-Mart have not been impressed with the company’s donations to local charities.
In a statement, Anna Lappé, co-founder of the Small Planet Institute said, “Like they have in other cities, Wal-Mart is trying to win the hearts of New Yorkers through donations and expensive PR campaigns.”
She pointed to studies that said Wal-Mart’s employees often use food stamps because of the retailer's low wages and benefits.
Walmart Free NYC, a coalition of community groups, asked food advocacy groups to show their independence and not let donations from Wal-Mart lead to support for the company.