By Hannah Lester
Last week the Food Bank of East Alabama held a joint celebration with the Opelika Walmart Distribution Center, which announced it has donated over 20 million pounds of food.
The Opelika Walmart Distribution Center began offering donations on June 9, 2000, and now, 20 years later, has donated 20 million pounds of food.
“We could not have envisioned in our wildest imaginations how far that support from Walmart was going to go,” said Martha Henk, executive director of the Food Bank of East Alabama.
The mayors of both Auburn and Opelika, Ron Anders and Gary Fuller, attended the celebration to read a proclamation created in the center’s honor.
“Whereas when the first donation from the Walmart Distribution Center was received, we had no way of knowing just what an important role Walmart would play in the Food Bank’s outreach efforts,” Anders said. “We couldn’t have envisioned what Walmart’s support would grow to provide, 15.4 million meals for food-insecure families locally.”
Fuller said that in Alabama, one in five citizens is food insecure.
“It’s hard to fully express just how big an impact the Walmart Distribution has on feeding the food insecure people in our community,” Henk said. “We are just more grateful than we can say.”
Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021, was proclaimed as Walmart Appreciation Day in both Auburn and Opelika.
Additionally, a video was played with messages from Gov. Kay Ivey, Auburn Chamber President Anna Hovey, Auburn Basketball Coach Bruce Pearl, Reverend Clifford Jones, Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones and more.
“On behalf of the [Food Bank of East Alabama] I want to reach out to all you folks at the Walmart Distribution Center,” Pearl said. “Do you have any idea the impact that you guys have made? You guys are amazing, we’re blessed to have you in our community. War Eagle.”
The Food Bank of East Alabama has numerous programs from food pantries, to backpack programs, to senior food programs to a community market.
“On behalf of the Food Bank Board of Directors and staff, Feeding American and most importantly, the 225 agencies that receive their food from us, thank you,” said Anne Whittlesey with the Food Bank of East Alabama. “Thank you for your amazing generosity that you have helped feed the food insecure in the East Alabama area. Today is a celebration and it’s all about y’all. It is all about you and all the team members at the Walmart DC. You are the reason that 20 million-plus pounds of food over the last 20 years have gone to help feed hungry and the food insecure.”
According to the bank’s website, the Food Bank of East Alabama provided over 4.5 million meals last year.
“These donations have greatly benefitted the Alabamians in seven counties served by the Food Bank of East Alabama and beyond, including here in Montgomery,” Ivey said. “So, thank you to every one of you at the Walmart Distribution Center for working to make Alabama stronger … may God continue to bless each of you in the great state of Alabama.”