Facebook Ups Its Food Donation Game

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Facebook Ups Its Food Donation Game

By Thad Rueter - 05/22/2020
The move comes as food retailers increase pandemic charity efforts
It's not only food retailers stepping up donations of food to consumers suffering through the pandemic.

The pandemic has led to waves of food donations from grocery store operators and other merchants. Now Facebook has increased its own charitable efforts.

The social media operator — and potentially bigger social commerce player — “is providing free and heavily subsidized food to local families facing food insecurity,” according to a recent report from California-based AlmanacNews.com. Facebook reportedly is building from earlier food donation efforts that stretch back some three years. “Since 2017, Facebook has offered free and heavily subsidized produce and food products to Belle Haven and East Palo Alto residents through its ‘mobile market’ – a farmers market on wheels,” the news outlet said.

That program has grown during the COVID-19 outbreak. “Since the pandemic started, the program has expanded dramatically, increasing the number of produce bags distributed weekly to more than 1,500,” the report said. “About 800 are distributed to local nonprofits, senior centers and churches, and 730 are provided at a heavily subsidized rate directly to local families. Before the pandemic, the program was distributing about 200 subsidized grocery bags to local families.”

Those bags include specialty food products. “For instance, a recent grocery bag available for people to preorder online for $10 contained locally sourced free-range eggs, banana walnut bread, organic orange juice, butter, granola, whole beans and honey,” the report said. “Generally, the subsidized bags represent about half of the overall distributions each week and provide a $60 value at a cost of between $10 and $15. Eligible customers can pay that cost with CalFresh EBT benefits.”

Food retailers have stepped up their food donation efforts during the pandemic. Walmart provides a recent example of that. The retail chain has launched the Fight Hunger. Spark Change. campaign to give customers a way to help pitch in. Between now and mid-June, customers will have the opportunity to support their community’s Feeding America member food bank by rounding up their online totals to the nearest dollar when making a purchase on Walmart.com.