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Food Charity vs Food Justice: Meijer Corporation continues to deceive the public with their so-called charitable contributions

May 19, 2022

It’s time for the annual Meijer sponsored LPGA Golf tournament, scheduled for June 16 – 19 at the Blythefield Country Club. 

The Meijer corporation uses this event to promote their own charitable contributions, particularly their Simply Give campaign. Each year they have a different theme for the golf outing. Last year, the theme was “fighting hunger” and this year’s theme is “Let’s Beat Hunger.”

If Meijer or any other entity wanted to actually beat hunger, then raising money for food charity is nothing more than a false solution. Instead of beating hunger, Meijer food charity efforts, and any other food charity efforts, simply perpetuates the problem, since it doesn’t address the root causes of hunger. Here are 5 reasons why food charity does not beat hunger: 

  • Food Charity is not Food Justice. No amount of donated food will solve the problem, because the issue is not a lack of food but the absence of equity, If people were making a just and living wage, there would not be a need to food pantries or food charity, except maybe during a natural disaster. The problem is what researchers call the Food Charity Industrial Complex, with includes pantries, larger food charity entities like Feeding America and the corporations that donate to them. The Food Charity Industrial Complex doesn’t really want to end hunger, they want to only provide temporary relief for people who are not only food insecure, but who are experiencing poverty.
  • If we were being honest, we would name the Meijer Corporation as a Food Cartel, which works with an Agribusiness system, within the larger economic system of Capitalism. (See our Food Justice Workshop for more details.) For example, Meijer has partners for this golf event, which interestingly enough includes other major corporations, specifically other Food Cartels, which benefit from contributing to the Food Industrial Complex as a tax write off, while making billions off of food trafficking, while millions in the US are food insecure.
  • Meijer is running ads on TV and radio stations in this market about their charitable event and the local news media is playing right along, since they do not question the merits of the Simply Give event.
  • This golfing 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 be 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, like the Meijer Corporation. The normalization of food charity is particularly offensive during the COVID pandemic, which has seen a rise in people utilizing food charity services.
  • According to the most recent data on the Forbes Billionaire list, Hank & Doug Meijer are worth $15.3 Billion, making them the 116th richest families in the world. This means that Hank & Doug Meijer’s wealth went from $10.2 Billion at the beginning of the pandemic to $15.3 Billion today. This also means that Hank & Doug Meijer’s wealth increased by $5.1 Billion in the past two years. The reality is that the Meijer family could redistribute equally the $5.1 billion to the people in West Michigan and effectively eliminate food insecurity for the thousands of individuals and families that are experiencing poverty. Hank & Doug Meijer could also pay their employees a living wage of $25 an hour, which would not only mean that their employees would be less likely to need food assistance, it would make the lives of their employee families less stressful. This would still leave Hank & Doug Meijer with $10.2 Billion, which should be more than enough to live on.

On Tuesday, MLive ran an article about Feeding America getting ready to move into a new facility, which would allow them to distribute more food for families “in need.”

In that same MLive article it states that Feeding America West Michigan received a leading gift of $2 million from longtime supporter, Meijer. While this seems like a a very generous donation, $2 Million from a family that is worth $15.3 Billion is like you and I contributing $20 to something. 

Not surprising, the MLive reporter doesn’t question the donation, the Meijer family wealth, the work of Feeding America or the fact that distributing more food to people will not address the root causes of hunger and food insecurity. The MLive reporter had no real incentive to ask these important questions, especially since the MLive article is essentially a re-wording of the Media Release sent out by the Meijer Corporation. Ultimately, the MLive article is not news, it is a Public Relations service they offered for the Meijer Corporation without charging them a cent. 

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