A father learns the importance of giving back.
As a 10-year associate for Walmart, Sean Lavery knew the company supported an annual campaign to fight hunger. But it wasn’t until he became a coach for food and consumables at Store 1309 in Salem, Virginia, that he realized the impact of Walmart’s giving—and that it took place year-round.
“I really was astounded by how much Walmart provides to local food banks across the country,” he says.
“It was eye opening, especially when I moved into the fresh areas of the store—where donations leave the store and go to the food bank. I saw how much we were giving on a weekly basis. Our food bank visits us three times a week!”
Sean has been the store’s Fight Hunger champion for the past three years, leading the store’s charge in the annual campaign, Fight Hunger. Spark Change. (FHSC).
The FHSC campaign runs April 5 through May 3, 2021. For the annual campaign, Walmart partners with Feeding America®, a nationwide network of 200 local food banks that provides meals to more than 40 million people in the U.S. each year.
What Can We Do?
Sean believes associates can have a big impact on the FHSC campaign by raising awareness among shoppers.
Customers can help the program through their purchases of grocery items online or in the store from participating suppliers, or through monetary donations at the register or online at Walmart.com.
During the four-week FHSC campaign, Walmart partners with suppliers—including Campbell Soup Company, General Mills, Kellogg’s, The Kraft Heinz Company, The J.M. Smucker Company, Hidden Valley Ranch and Unilever, among others—that help provide meals for people facing hunger.
As an example, for every box of specially marked Honey Nut Cheerios that a Walmart customer buys during the campaign, General Mills will donate the monetary equivalent of one meal to the local food bank.
Even associates working outside of foods can help. “If you work in sporting goods, selling canoes, let the customers know, ‘Hey, by the way, we've got the Fight Hunger. Spark Change. campaign going on right now. These are the different ways that you can help’,” Sean suggests.
Associates can also let customers know the money they donate stays in the local community.
Closer to Home
In Salem, Virginia, donations collected at Store 1309 go to Feeding Southwest Virginia.
Sean was able to visit the 82nd Airborne Christian Soldiers Food Pantry, which is supported, in part, by Feeding Southwest Virginia, over the holidays and said the operation is “pretty incredible.” The pantry, like many others across the country, has seen a spike in demand since the pandemic began.
“All of these people are 100% volunteers,” Sean says of the people working in the pantry. “They don't get any money for doing what they do. Some spend their whole day there. It's like a full-time job for them. Seeing them work furiously to get these packages ready—they had to change their whole system because of COVID and drive-up donations—it was pretty inspiring.”
Sean became a father a few years ago and says that new role gave the FHSC campaign new meaning for him.
“The thought of any kid going hungry is devastating to me,” he explains. “Once I became a father, that really reenergized my whole passion for the FHSC campaign, because that's just not something that should happen in this country.”
Store 1309 is proud of the way their community has showed up for the campaign, despite the pandemic. Every dollar raised helps provide at least 10 meals secured by Feeding America on behalf of local member food banks.
“I'm really proud of the company and working for them, knowing that we make such a big impact,” Sean says.