The Walmart Foundation has supported food banks for years. In May 2010, the philanthropic organization announced a five-year, $2 billion cash and in-kind commitment to food banks across the nation. Today, the organization has announced that 16 food banks will receive a total of $2 million to complete energy efficiency upgrades on their facilities.

Although the Walmart Foundation has donated, and will continue to donate, food directly to these organizations, it is also striving to think outside of the box and find other ways to support food banks. This is where the idea of providing funds for energy efficiency upgrades comes into play.

Energy efficiency grants serve multiple purposes. First, increasing the energy efficiency of a building falls in line with the Walmart Foundation’s sustainability goals. Second, if a building is more energy-efficient then the food bank saves money, year over year, on energy costs. Finally, a more energy-efficient building can reduce the amount of food that spoils on the shelves at the food bank. This creative approach to supporting food banks will have long-lasting effects.

The Walmart Foundation has existing relationships with all 206 of the nation’s major food banks through the Feeding America organization but needed to choose select locations for this project. When considering the food banks that would be a part of the energy efficiency program, the Walmart Foundation focused on the communities with the most food insecurity, including Gulf Coast states.

Grant awards range from $24,182 to $382,879 and will fund upgrades at food banks in the following states: Alabama, California, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon and West Virginia.

Each of the facilities has undergone an energy audit and a variety of energy efficiency upgrades will be completed by an energy service company (ESCO). Once all of the projects have been completed, the energy savings should top $625,000 annually. This is enough money to buy 390,000 pounds of food or to buy more than 300,000 meals. This savings will come through a reduction of 5.2 million kilowatt hours of energy use annually, which is the equivalent of preventing 3,700 metric tons of carbon emissions.

"These grants underscore Walmart's commitment to lead on both under relief and sustainability," said Margaret McKenna, president of the Walmart Foundation. "Every dollar these food banks save on energy costs is another dollar they can use to help meet the hunger needs of their local communities." Source: Walmart Foundation

Walmart Foundation’s five-year hunger relief effort includes plans to donate more than 1.1 billion pounds of food from both Walmart stores and Sam’s Club locations and provide a total of $250 million in grants to support hunger relief efforts at the local, state and national levels.

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