Walmart launches food appeal... for Walmart staff

Store in Ohio launches a campaign looking for food donations for its own employees

Wal-Mart has come under fire in the US overnight after a store in Ohio launched a campaign looking for food donations for its own employees in order to help them enjoy Thanksgiving next week.

Walmart is the biggest retailer in the world with recorded profits of $15.7 billion last year but the earnings of those at the bottom of its corporate ladder were under the microscope last night after a photograph started circulating online showing several large plastic bins at a store in Canton, Ohio beside a sign which reads: “Please donate food items here so Associates in Need can enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner.”

The picture was distributed by Our Wal-Mart, a group which has repeatedly called on the retail giant to unionise its employees.

Speaking to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, an employee of the store Tiffany Beroid and a supporter of the pro-union group said it was not unusual for employees to receive government assistance. "This is the first time I've seen them ask associates for donations for Thanksgiving, but I know associates at my store experience struggling to feed their families everyday. Most of them rely on food banks," she said.

A spokesman for Walmart reacted angrily to the way the story is being reported. He said the store, which has around 300 employees had been hosting a food drive over the Thanksgiving holiday for years. “Quite frankly, a lot of people in that store are frustrated and offended that this is reported in a way besides other folks rallying around each other,” he said. “I couldn’t be prouder of people in that store helping in a tough situation,” he said.

Speaking to Forbes Magazine the director of Labour education research at Cornell Univeristy's School of Labour Kate Bronfenbrenner said the move "captures Wal-Mart right there. Wal-Mart is setting up bins because its employees don't make enough to feed themselves and their families."

Wal-Mart has acknowledged that the average full time, hourly rate staff are paid is $12.83, a figure which includes the salaries of some of the highest paid employees including the company's chief executive Mike Duke. His income from the company last year was $20.7 million.

Conor Pope

Conor Pope

Conor Pope is Consumer Affairs Correspondent, Pricewatch Editor and cohost of the In the News podcast