A Canton, Ohio Walmart store is under fire for organizing a food drive meant to benefit its own employees, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported on Monday.
The store set up bins in an employee-only section of the store encouraging donations of food so that some of the store’s needier workers could enjoy a Thanksgiving meal, according to photos sent to advocacy group Organization United for Respect at Walmart.
Community members and store workers were upset by the food drive.
“That Walmart would have the audacity to ask low-wage workers to donate food to other low-wage workers — to me, it is a moral outrage,” Norma Mills, a Canton resident, told the Plain Dealer.
One Walmart employee described the food drive at “demoralizing,” noting that Walmart is not fully addressing how little some people make working for the company.
Vanessa Ferreira, an organizer for OUR Walmart, a group that organized strikes in Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio on Monday, was angered by the food drive.
“Why would a company do that?” she told the Cleveland Plain Dealer. “The company needs to stand up and give them their 40 hours and a living wage, so they don’t have to worry about whether they can afford Thanksgiving.”
Kory Lundberg, a Walmart spokesman, defended the food drive and said it was an example of coworkers looking out for each other.
“It is for associates who have had some hardships come up,” he told the Plain Dealer. “This is part of the company’s culture to rally around associates and take care of them when they face extreme hardships.”
Walmart workers have been staging strikes across the country since Black Friday 2012, protesting the company’s low wages and focus on employing part-time workers.