Image: Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana
Walmart announced a new program today to help food banks around the country make energy efficiency improvements. The program will help 16 food banks in high-need areas make upgrades designed to bring lasting savings—and more food to more people.
Upgrades will be made to refrigeration appliances, heating and air conditioning equipment, and more efficient lighting (not just the light bulbs, but also the light fixtures, Margaret McKenna, president of the Walmart Foundation, said last week). She also pointed out that in addition to energy and cost savings, some of the improvements will help prevent food waste.
The money is being distributed to food banks through grants that McKenna said are designed to meet individual needs of the different food banks. "It wasn't us saying, 'Here, we're going to give you this'—it was, 'What do you need to become more energy efficient, and to save money?'"
The grants are expected to help these food banks collectively save more than 5.2 million kilowatt hours in energy consumption and $625,000 in energy costs—enough to buy at least 300,000 meals.
The food banks selected for the program are primarily located in high-need, food-insecure areas, including Baton Rouge, Charlotte, Detroit, Ft. Lauderdale, Tallahassee, Theodore, AL, New Orleans, Indianapolis, Los Angeles and New York. McKenna said they intentionally sought cities in the Gulf area because of the economic damage and high unemployment that the BP oil spill brought to the region.
Walmart's goal was for its investment to start paying back in three or four years, which McKenna said they've for the most part accomplished. "And the savings will go on for many years to come," she said, "and will go where it belongs, which is food and services."
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