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Meijer Golf Tournament Fights Hunger? Another example of the Charity Industrial Complex in West Michigan

June 8, 2017

The Charity Industrial Complex is not something new. It has been around for decades, but it has evolved over the years in an attempt to supplant the hard work of social movements.

The Charity Industrial Complex is essentially the business and philanthropic community’s attempt to convince the public that what they are doing is “making a difference.” Virtually every week, events are hosted by businesses and sometimes by non-profits, with the purpose of getting the public to donate towards whatever cause is popular and trendy.

One of the most popular causes these days is “fighting hunger.” People can go to their favorite bar or restaurant and a portion of what they spend will go to a local charity that claims to be fighting hunger. Lots of people participate, because they don’t have to do anything other than be a good consumer. People get to drink beer or eat fish tacos and still feel like they are contributing to efforts to end hunger. What’s even better, is that they don’t even need to interact with people who are experiencing poverty.

However, the activities of the Charity Industrial Complex is fundamentally based on a lie. All of businesses and non-profits that claim to be fighting hunger are really just offering another bandaid to the deeply systemic problem of hunger and poverty. In fact, many of the same businesses that participate in the anti-hunger campaigns are the same ones that are profiting from the current food system that is designed to keep people malnourished and hungry.

Last month, we posted an article about the fallacies of food drives. Food drives are really designed to distract us into think that we are making a difference, when in fact we end up perpetuating the problem by not addressing the root causes of hunger and poverty. 

Golfing Fights Hunger???

Next week, West Michigan will play host to the Meijer LPGA Classic at the Blythefield Country Club. The annual golf tournament is one way for the Meijer Corporation to con the public into thinking that they care about the community, through their Simply Give program.

In the upbeat video, we are told over and over again that this whole effort is to “help feed the hungry” and to make sure that “no one goes to bed hungry.” Amazing! Those with power have been able to manipulate the public into believing that a huge corporate golf tournament will actually fight hunger. So, how do they do this?

First, the Meijer Corporation spends a ton of money on their Simply Give campaign, in much the same way that they market their business image. Meijer is seen as an important resource in West Michigan and banks on the idea that people can’t imagine a West Michigan without the food retail giant.

Second, the Golf Tournament enlists celebrities and thousands of volunteers through the local news media, which has been promoting this event for years and begins promoting months ahead of the actual golf tournament. In addition, the news media participates as sponsors of events like the Meijer LPGA Classic and presents it as a fun, family opportunity that will also do some good, by fighting hunger.

Third, this event (and the Charity Industrial Complex as a whole) is normalizing the way in which society solves problems, which is through charitable efforts for the “less fortunate.” We are not allowed to ask the question, “why are so many people going hungry in our community.” We just have to accept that those who are in need, are struggling because of some misfortune. We cannot allowed to have any discussion that seeks to understand the root causes of hunger and the systemic forces that are the beneficiaries of hunger and poverty.

I mean, look at the list of co-sponsors of the Meijer LPGA Classic in the graphic below. These are all corporations that are part of the food industry. These corporations have made billions off of an unjust food system and primarily sell and market products that make us unhealthy. They are also corporations that have spent millions to support political candidates and to lobby members of Congress to maintain an unjust food system and to line their pockets with billions of dollars in subsidies.

It is important that we not buy into these lies and that we expose the Charity Industrial Complex as just another way to maintain systems of oppression and exploitation.

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