Walmart Foundation is taking a bold step in the fight against hunger in Canada.
The charitable arm of the multinational retailer is giving a $2.6 million grant to Food Banks Canada, a national organization representing a network of 550 food bank partner organizations.
The multi-year commitment will help Food Banks Canada invest in the infrastructure needed to recover and distribute surplus food to families in need. An earlier $2 million grant from Walmart Foundation already helps 159 food banks provide operational support for retail food pick-up programs, as well as educational resources to improve safe food handling. The funds are also helping 50 organizations buy equipment to expand cold-chain capability to make fresh and perishable foods more accessible.
The $4.6 million in total funds will help food banks acquire fridge and freezer units, trucks and vans, and other equipment and staffing resources to increase fresh food offerings, while improving food storage and distribution.
“Investment in resources helps strengthen the charitable meal system, making it possible for food banks to accept more food from donors, whether from Walmart or any other business or organization that wants to relieve hunger in Canada,” said Kathleen McLaughlin, chief sustainability officer and president of the Walmart Foundation, in a release.
A study from Food Banks Canada found more than 860,000 Canadians use food banks each month, a 28% increase since the 2008 economic downturn. The growing use of food banks means people struggle to access enough nutritious foods like produce, meat, dairy and non-perishable staples, according to the organization.
Walmart Canada has been a partner of Food Banks Canada since 2011. The retailer is also a founding partner of the national retail food program and has donated more than five million pounds of food directly to local food banks.