A Wal-Mart store is being criticized for collecting donations of food for their "associates in need." Company officials said the Canton, Ohio, food drive was an attempt to encourage Wal-Mart employees to help colleagues who are less fortunate. Critics say the collection underlines the fact that the retail giant does not pay its employees a living wage.
The donation center is set up in a back room, which is only accessible by employees. Numerous plastic tubs are lined up on table, with a sign that reads "Please donate food items here so associates in need can enjoy Thanksgiving dinner."
An employee took a photo of the collection bins and posted it online. As reported by Cleveland.com, the employee asked to remain anonymous. However, she discussed how she felt when she saw the collection bins.
She said the food drive is "demoralizing." For her, it is proof that Wal-Mart knows their employees are struggling. Instead of paying better wages, they are asking other employees to fill the gap by donating food.
The photo eventually gained the attention of the Organization United for Respect at Walmart. Organizer Vanessa Ferreira said she was outraged by the food drive:
"Why would a company do that... 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."
Canton resident Norma Mills saw the photo online. She said she was stunned that the retail giant had "the audacity to ask low-wage workers to donate food to other low-wage workers."
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Wal-Mart spokesman Kory Lundberg defended the collection. He said the food drive is a yearly event planned to help employees facing "unforseen hardships." Lundberg explains that the donations are usually reserved for employees who have lost a family member or have extraordinary medical expenses.
He said the yearly collection is "being twisted into something it's not." He also argues that Wal-Mart's wages are reasonable.
[Image via Shutterstock]