Skip to content

The Meijer and Kids Food Basket partnership demonstrates how much we have internalized the values of Capitalism

April 20, 2022

Editor’s Note: This is the first post we have done in the past two week that does not directly have to do with the GRPD or the GRPD shooting of Patrick Lyoya. However, in some ways, the post below is connected, since it also deal with White Supremacy, White Privilege and White Saviorism. In fact, last year, there were two BIPOC organizers that were threatened by lawyers who worked for Kids Food Basket, because they were challenging KFB practices. 

“For over 10 years, Kids’ Food Basket has had the honor to partner with Meijer to break down the barriers to food equity in our community.” 

The above comment comes from the President and CEO at Kids Food Basket, Bridget Clark Whitney, while being interviewed recently in the Grand Rapids Business Journal. Whitney was commenting on the relationship that Kids Food Basket has with the local retail giant Meijer.

Equity is a term that is used a great deal these days, sometimes accurately and sometimes not. One definition of equity states: Equity is about giving people what they need, in order to make things fair. Since the CEO of Kids Food Basket is using the term equity when talking about the food they provide school-age students, along with the financial support to do so from Meijer. Therefore, it might be important to think about what equity could look like in this community, if Kids Food Basket and Meijer practiced what they preach.

As we have pointed out in numerous articles previously on Kids Food Basket, the 20 year non-profit does not practice food justice, food sovereignty, nor equity, they practice food charity. They provide food to elementary age children through their sack supper program. This program has received tremendous support over the years, so much so that Kids Food Basket has grown so fast, they have had to move numerous times to accommodate that growth.

The organization also regularly refers to their work as fighting hunger. Yet, in order to fight hunger, one needs to address the root causes of hunger, which are mostly economic and racial in this community. Children of color disproportionately experience food insecurity and poverty in this city that do their white counterparts. If you were committed to ending poverty, then that would mean that the families of the students served by KFB, would be making a livable wage. If families of color were making a livable wage, they would not need to rely on any form of food charity. 

When it comes to Meijer, one of the largest grocery chains in the midwest, there are several critiques when it comes to the topic of equity. First, Meijer doesn’t practice equity with their own employees, particularly those that work in the stores. Many Meijer store employees make just above minimum wage in Michigan, which is far from a livable wage. If those Meijer employees were making a livable wage, then their children would not be food insecure. 

Second, Meijer annually co-sponsors an PGA Golf Tournament, where golfers making millions, but people can donate money to the Meijer Simply Give program, which we have written about previous, stating in part:

This annual event is not only insulting and offensive to anyone who has a conscience, it actually perpetuate food insecurity. People are not going hungry in this community because they are in need, they are going hungry because of much larger social inequities that the Meijer Corporation and the Meijer family are directly connected to.

Third, the Meijer family wealth now stands at $16.224 Billion. However, their wealth has dramatically grown during the past two years of the pandemic, increasing by $6.2 Billion, while millions have been struggling to survive.

Therefore, it seems appropriate that Kids Food Basket and Meijer have been partnering for the past ten years. This partnership not only demonstrates the failed food charity model, it demonstrates how with critical issues like hunger and food insecurity, we can avoid dealing with root causes. 

Lastly, this partnership between Meijer and Kids Food Basket, perpetuates the growing wealth gap in West Michigan, and it takes attention away from the exploitative practices of the Meijer family. As a society, it shows how much we have internalized Capitalism, when a Billionaire family partners with a non-profit to provide food charity to children experiencing poverty, when in fact the same Billionaire family could eradicated child poverty in West Michigan just from the profits they have made during the pandemic.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: