At its annual conference (FNCE), the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics holds pre-FNCE workshops and events. We were disturbed to see this one listed:
“Innovations in Food Distribution and Nutrition Education at Food Banks
Through Kids Eat Right, the Foundation is working with Feeding America to raise awareness of the issue of nutrition and food insecurity. Take an insider’s tour of the nation’s largest Feeding America food bank and learn about their model programs. Transportation and a box lunch will be provided. Space is limited.
Sponsored by Walmart®.”
The fact that Walmart is sponsoring this event is outrageous, for several reasons.
- This 2006 study documented a correlation between Walmart’s presence and higher poverty rates.
- Walmart paved the way for poverty wages.
- Walmart’s “Hunger Games“.
We reached out to Andy Fisher, the co-founder and former executive director of the Community Food Security Coalition, to get his thoughts on this event:
“The emperor has no clothes. Walmart parades through the public pretending to be a hunger fighter, when in reality the abysmally low wages it pays its employees only sinks them further into poverty. Feeding America willfully closes its eyes to this situation, for fear of getting kicked off the Walmart gravy train.”
Mr. Fisher is in the process of writing a book about this very topic. In the meantime, we recommend this piece he wrote for Civil Eats last year about the many contradictions in the anti-hunger movement:
We also reached out to public health lawyer and Eat Drink Politics President Michele Simon, JD, MPH.
“It’s sad to see the Academy giving Walmart this free PR, which is a clever way to cover up the pain and destruction that company continues to cause. Walmart sponsoring a food bank is especially ironic given how the company doesn’t pay its workers a living wage, causing many to go on food stamps. You won’t see any sessions at FNCE discussing these sorts of issues, of course.”
If you haven’t read it yet, be sure to check out Simon’s report, “Food Stamps: Follow the Money”, which takes a look at who benefits the most from food assistance programs.
Above all, it is a real shame that the Academy is allowing Walmart to sponsor an event, essentially turning a blind eye to the chain’s well-documented problematic corporate behavior.