Wal-Mart Holds a Holiday Food Drive – For its Own Employees

As the holidays roll closer, a number of companies will be looking for ways to help those who are less fortunate. Some will raise money for charities, others will solicit donations of toys or warm clothes for children. Wal-Mart, the mega retailer that consistently ranks in the top first or second slot among Fortune 500 companies, is also doing something for those in need, with one store in Canton, Ohio, seeking food to help those who can’t afford the groceries for a full Thanksgiving meal.

The difference? They are doing it for their own employees.

According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Canton store is having a food drive, with tubs located in the employee break room to collect items for other associates working at the location. “Please Donate Food Items Here, so Associates in Need Can Enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner,” says a sign located by the bins.

The company claims that its altruistic gesture is being misconstrued. Kory Lundberg, a Wal-Mart spokesman, said that the effort was to show how much employees care for one another and help each other out. He told the Cleveland Plain Dealer, “It is for associates who have had some hardships come up. Maybe their spouse lost a job…This is part of the company’s culture to rally around associates and take care of them when they face extreme hardships.”

Maybe that is how the company brass believes they are presenting the food drive, but that still leaves open the fact that the reason that employees are unable to weather additional economic hardship is because their own financial stability is undermined by the low wages they receive from their employment with the company. If their associates were truly receiving a living wage, complete with standard benefits, the loss of a spouse’s job wouldn’t leave them in danger of literally having nothing to eat at Thanksgiving except the canned goods donated by a co-worker.

Sadly, the idea of seeing handouts as the proper way to supplement a low wage job, rather than considering pay increases or other means of compensating an employee, is epidemic among companies reliant on hourly employees. Recently, another scandal hit the newspapers when a worker at McDonalds recorded herself asking their company help line how to go about earning more per hour. The help line instead advised her to obtain Medicaid and Food Stamps as a way of stretching her pay.

Low-wage employees are fighting back at Wal-Marts all over the country, staging strikes that have been leading up to what could be a massive, profit-effecting planned strike on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving that traditionally can make or break a retail season for many companies. Among the demands are a push for a $13 a hour wage, or minimum annual salary of $25,000, as well as health care benefits and other traditional benefits received by employees of other companies. According to a report by In These Times, less than one-third of the company’s 1.4 million workers earn over $25,000, leaving the majority of them earning less than the federal poverty level.

The income gap between employee and executives among the Wal-Mart “family” is massive and continues to remain so. Those who run the company insist that to raise employee pay would force them to lessen their low prices, making them less appealing to customers. However, a 2011 study on the issue shows that if the costs were all passed on directly to consumers it would increase each shopping trip by just 46 cents per trip. On the other hand, the increase could also be directly applied to the earnings of its highest executives. The CEO earns roughly $17,000 per hour, and an average worker would need to work 785 years to make his annual salary.

Despite all of this, Wal-Mart is encouraging its own low wage workers to donate food to other workers to help them get through any hardships. Perhaps the company can come up with a more generous way to “rally around their associates” rather than ask their already burdened employees to do it for them.

Photo credit: Wikimedia commons


Holly M.
Holly M4 years ago

Ridiculous for Walmart, or any other retailer, to make their employees work on Thanksgiving. I will not be at the stores that day, and hope others follow suit. I've not gone out on Black Friday for years, because greed (consumer and retailer) has made it horrible. With people camping out in front of stores days in advance, I won't get the specials anyway. More and more of my holiday shopping is being done online, with no lines and no worries about the bad behavior of the bargain-crazed.

Mike Kelly
Mike K4 years ago

Well would you kookie here. Walmart is faking their employees work on Thanksgiving and has figured out a way to screw them out of their time-and-a-half, holiday premium pay.


Nice touch.

Angela Roquemore
Angela Roquemore4 years ago

If they got an actual living wage they wouldn't be "in need."

Mike Kelly
Mike K4 years ago

Oops. The Walton "Thought Police" must have hacked my last post. Do-Over:

Today's NY Times update on the bloated, doughy Walton family:

The spoiled spawn of Sam Walton: billionaires Rob, Alice, Jim & Christy, gave their reasons, for refusing to provide any money, or other aid, to the surviving families of the 1,200 workers who were killed in Bangladesh when the Walmart-products-factory collapsed.

I can't quote Rob, Alice, Jim & Christy directly, but the statements of their spokespeople went something like this:

"It's not our problem. We didn't tell them to work there. The person that we bought the factory's goods from dirt cheap, and made a bundle by selling them to American saps, suckers and dupes, was not authorized to tell those workers to work there. Too bad they died, and we're having a sale tomorrow as our way of thanking the Lord for the piles of money in our vaults."


Mike Kelly
Mike K4 years ago

The Waltons: Rob, Alice, Jim & Christy earn 8.5 million dollars every day 365 days a year. In leap years these four billionaires make an extra $8.5 mil.

Today's NY Times "Business Day" reports the reasons that the absurdly wealthy Waltons are gov

Jane R.
Jane R4 years ago

Walmart should be ashamed and boycotted.

Jason R.
Jason R4 years ago

Joanne S. is so right…They divide us to take our power away. It's what FOX et al do.

Sandy Castro
Sandy Castro4 years ago

They should eat it themselves and disappear..

Joanne S.
Jo S4 years ago

If you shop at Walmart it's your fault, if you boycott them, that will bring them to there knees!

Karen Gee4 years ago

Thank you for sharing