Tiffin Walmart, along with Walmart stores across the nation, is participating in a national hunger relief campaign to close the "spring hunger gap" in Seneca County. Because donations at local food banks tend to run short in the spring, Walmart has chosen Friday through Sunday as the dates for a food drive to replenish the shelves of The Salvation Army pantry.
Wendy Shellhouse, community involvement coordinator for Walmart, said she contacted The Salvation Army to learn what it needed for its clients and came up with a project to meet those needs. Using products from ConAgra, General Mills, Kelloggs and Kraft, store employees have made up pre-packaged bags of food that customers can purchase and donate.
"They get donations all the time ... but they might get a lot of one thing but not enough of the other another. We're trying to get them what they need, because they spend a lot of money in here trying to get it on their own," Shellhouse said. "They give bags of groceries out every week. They try to do nutritional stuff in each bag, like vegetables, canned meat, cereal and juice. They try to do a variety in the bag, so we're trying to help them out with the need they have."
Shellhouse said the Tiffin store had conducted food drives at its former location but not at the current store, and not with The Salvation Army. The hunger relief campaign is an extension of Wal-Mart Stores' $2 billion commitment to fight hunger through 2015. Statistics show one out of every six people lives in a household lacking adequate food. More than 46 million Americans are living in poverty, the highest number in 52 years.
"We're seeing how much food we can get in one weekend to help out our local food bank," Shellhouse said. "Different stores are doing different ideas. This is what we in Tiffin chose to do."
The packages cost $3, $5, $10 or $20. Also, collection cans will be set up for smaller cash donations that will be used to buy more pre-packaged bags. Shellhouse said they tried to make the the food drive as convenient as possible for donors.
"All they have to do is take it to the register, the cashier will scan it and we'll take it to the bins. Then The Salvation Army is going to come and pick up those bins," she explained.
Wal-Mart also is preparing a series of events to benefit the Children's Miracle Network. That effort is to run every weekend May 1 through June 13. Shellhouse said this is the 25th year the company has supported Children's Miracle Network.