Home News Walmart Foundation Donates $400,000 To Ohio Families

Walmart Foundation Donates $400,000 To Ohio Families

$300,000 To Foodbank Network; $100,000 To Home Energy Assistance Program
Funds will be used to buy food for Ohioans in need and keep families’ homes heated

COLUMBUS – Responding to an unprecedented crisis in Ohio’s emergency food network and recognizing the struggle of Ohio families to pay their utility bills this winter, the Walmart Foundation today announced a $300,000 grant to the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks (OASHF), Ohio’s largest charitable response to hunger, and a $100,000 grant to the Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), a federally funded program administered by the Ohio Department of Development to help low-income Ohioans pay their utility bills.

The donation to OASHF will fund food purchases for the 12 foodbanks represented by the organization. The HEAP donation will help eligible low-income Ohioans meet the high costs of home heating this winter.

The contributions were announced during an event held today at the Mid-Ohio Foodbank with Ohio Governor Ted Strickland and David Gose of Walmart Stores. Part of Walmart’s new State Giving initiative, the OASHF donation will allow the state’s foodbanks to purchase more than one million pounds of food to be distributed in all 88 Ohio counties.

“These contributions from Walmart are a true example of the essential role that corporate partners have in supporting the non-profit community,” said Ohio Governor Ted Strickland. “By infusing Ohio’s foodbank network and HEAP with such substantial support, many Ohio families will have food and heat they might not otherwise have. And the donation to the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks will boost the buying power of funds used to purchase nutritious Ohio agricultural products and shelf-stable foods.”

“While hunger is a year-round problem, we recognize that right now our local communities are facing greater hunger needs than ever before, with more families seeking assistance from their local foodbanks,” said David Gose, director of operations, Ohio, for Walmart. “Our partnership with Ohio’s foodbanks reflects our corporate commitment to doing more to help the organizations that help Ohioans in need. Additionally, with so many families struggling to pay their bills in today’s economic environment, we wanted to do our part to help keep their families warm this winter.”

“Without a doubt, this donation comes at a time when our network of hunger relief is under enormous strain,” said Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, OASHF executive director. “Walmart’s response to what we are facing – long lines throughout our network, job losses and rising costs for essentials like food and utilities – will help address our current food shortages and enable us to meet the basic needs of many vulnerable Ohioans.” She said while the contribution is a significant response to increasing demand, the long lines at distribution sites and growing need for emergency food illustrate that much more must still be done.

Ohio foodbanks are facing unprecedented demand. OASHF’s network of providers served more than 1.6 million (duplicated counts) Ohioans between July 1 and September 30, 2008. Of those clients served, more than 213,000 are seniors, and nearly 618,000 are children. Many are employed but cannot make ends meet; one out of three households has at least one adult who is working.

“Hunger is a complex problem and requires a collective approach to solve it – corporate partners are invaluable to that effort – particularly during the economic crisis that has led to unprecedented demand for emergency food,” said Matt Habash, president and CEO of Mid-Ohio Foodbank. “We thank Walmart for their leadership in joining the fight against hunger, especially as too many Ohioans struggle to put food on the table this holiday season.”

The $300,000 contribution was made possible by the Walmart Foundation's new State Giving Program (SGP), which awards grants at the state and regional levels to support unmet needs. To help facilitate this process, the Foundation created individual State Giving Advisory Councils made up of associates who represent a wide-range of internal business units.

Current U.S. Census Bureau data indicates that almost 1.5 million Ohioans are living in poverty, and about a half-million children under age 18 live in poverty. More than one million Ohioans participate monthly in the federal Food Stamp program, representing an increase of 46 percent in the past five years.

Ohio’s foodbanks play a comprehensive role in hunger relief – from securing donations to collecting, warehousing and distributing food through the emergency food network. Nearly 3,000 foodbanks and member charities serve all 88 counties each year – with households that include children and seniors, urban and rural residents, those who are healthy or disabled, and those who are working or looking for work.

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About Philanthropy at Walmart
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT) and the Walmart Foundation are proud to support the charitable causes that are important to customers and associates in their own neighborhoods. Through its philanthropic programs and partnerships, the Walmart Foundation supports initiatives focused on enhancing opportunities in education, job skills training, sustainability and health. In 2007, Walmart, Sam's Club and the Walmart Foundation gave $296 million to communities across the United States. To learn more, visit http://www.walmartfoundation.org.

About the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks
The Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks is Ohio’s largest charitable response to hunger, representing 12 foodbanks and 3,000 member charities including food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters. OASHF is also the lead agency operating the Ohio Benefit Bank. Since September 1, 2006, OBB has grown to more than 850 sites in 84 counties, sponsored by more than 800 different faith-based, community and private sector organizations. More than 3,000 counselors across Ohio are trained to use the OBB to help low- and moderate-income Ohioans claim tax credits and public benefits for which they are eligible. Since the program’s inception, OBB has helped more than 34,000 Ohioans claim $45.6 million in tax credits and public benefits.

For more information about the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks or the Ohio Benefit Bank or to determine potential eligibility for public benefits, visit www.OBB.Ohio.Gov or call 1-800-648-1146.