Community

Hurricane Tracker: What’s Happened and What’s Next

We’re collecting updates from our volunteers and associates helping to address the needs of those affected by recent hurricane activity. Stay tuned to this article and @WalmartNewsroom for the latest info.

We Want to Make Sure We’re Here for Our Community
Updated 3:15 p.m. CDT – Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017

Now that most curfews have been lifted and people are starting to get around, recovery mode is well underway following Hurricane Irma. For residents of the impacted areas, returning home, repairing storm damage and getting life back to normal are priorities. The same is true for our associates and stores. A sure sign of normalcy returning to communities across Florida and the Southeast is a reopened Walmart or Sam’s Club. Following the hurricane, residents will need food, water and all types of supplies as they return home. Getting these facilities up and running as quickly as possible is something our associates take seriously, and they’re proud to be a part of getting impacted communities back on their feet.


Store manager Mike and the team at #4161 in Miami, FL have been working tirelessly and are now ready to reopen and serve the community hit by #HurricaneIrma. Fantastic job team, we are #BetterTogether.

Posted by Doug McMillon on Tuesday, September 12, 2017


Not far from Miami International Airport, the same sense of pride and desire to make a difference is obvious at store 4161. There, Store Manager Mike Williams and his team worked with purpose to have the store ready for customers. For the team, being there for customers isn’t just a job, it’s an obligation they take seriously.

While it will be quite some time before life is truly back to normal in some of the hardest hit areas, being open and there to help is welcome news for both our associates and our customers.

Monday Morning Briefing from Walmart’s Emergency Operations Center
Updated 5:20 p.m. CDT – Monday, Sept. 11, 2017

Now that Irma has been downgraded to a tropical storm, our Emergency Operations Center is tracking rainfall as it heads into Georgia while continuing to offer 24-hour support to our associates in the field. Take a look at this morning’s briefing to hear the teams talk about challenges in Florida, another $10 million in relief and the continued focus on associate safety.

#BetterTogether -- Hurricane Relief Efforts Continue
Updated 11:30 a.m. CDT - Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017

Over the past several weeks, we have seen unimaginable damage caused by both Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, but we have also seen stories of hope and people coming together to recover and rebuild.

It is times like these where we step up to help our associates, customers and communities. We are proud of the work that all of our associates have done to give back in so many different ways. Here are some of the ways we have worked together to make a difference.

Preparing for Recovery: A Look Inside our Emergency Operations Center
Updated 3:30 p.m. CDT – Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017

Teams at our Emergency Operations Center at Walmart’s home office in Bentonville, Arkansas, have been working 24/7 on hurricane relief since Aug. 22. Here’s a look inside the EOC from Friday, Sept. 8, as the team prepares for Hurricane Irma.

Taking Care of Each Other While Taking Care of Our Communities
Updated 6:22 p.m. CDT – Friday, Sept. 8, 2017

Making sure family and friends are safe and cared for following a natural disaster is the first order of business for anyone impacted. It’s no different at Walmart and Sam’s Club, where our first priority is making sure our associates are safe and have what they and their families need.

When Harvey struck Texas, dedicated teams in our Emergency Operations Center were hard at work with our human resources teams on the ground. Together, they helped make sure our associates were safe and accounted for, while also helping them get aid and supplies. Also, to assist with immediate needs, impacted associates have early access to wages they’ve already earned, as well as other programs such as disaster support pay and disaster displacement assistance.

As Texas continues to recover, a new threat, Hurricane Irma, is expected to make landfall in Florida this weekend. So far, Irma has caused massive damage in the Caribbean. As it moves closer to the U.S., we’re working to help ensure our associates are out of harm’s way while making preparations to be there for the customers we serve once it’s safe to do so. With mandatory evacuations underway across Florida, we have the same support systems we used in Texas in place to help our people in evacuation zones get to a place of safety.

Making a difference in the communities we serve is what we do, and our associates are the real difference makers. At Walmart and Sam’s Club, we’re here for our associates when they need us most so they can be there for our customers – because we’re better together. After all, that’s what it means to be part of a community.

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Sustainability

Affordable v. Eco-Friendly: You Shouldn’t Have to Choose

Wouldn’t it be great if you could just walk into a store and be confident the items you purchased were produced in a way that had the least amount of impact on the planet?

While that’s not yet a reality for many consumers, Walmart is trying to get there faster.

Last April, Walmart launched Project Gigaton, a project that invites our merchandise suppliers to join us in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the products they make and the way they make them, taking 1 gigaton (yes, that’s really a word - a billion metric tons) of emissions out of the atmosphere. That’s equal to all the emissions produced from all the homes in California over three years.

Greenhouse gas emissions are compounds that trap heat in the atmosphere and make the earth warmer. When the earth is too warm, it can cause many long-term issues that affect everyday things like the way we grow certain foods and source certain resources.

Not only does Project Gigaton encourage suppliers to remove emissions, it also encourages them to explore ways to improve their products, such as making packaging more recyclable, using less energy, saving customers money and reducing waste.

Taylor Farms is a supplier that makes prepackaged salads and fresh-cut vegetables for our Marketside private brand. With their chopped salads and stir fry kits, they found a way to reduce food waste by using the whole crop, meaning that 100% of the edible veggies get chopped up and nothing is discarded in the production process.

Taylor Farms has been dedicated to the development of new harvesting methods, engineering automated harvesting machines. In comparison to harvesting by hand, the uniformity and consistency of automated harvesting leads to higher yields and shipment of 100% usable products to their processing facilities. In addition to Taylor Farms, we are excited to have a growing number of suppliers joining Project Gigaton, working on things like reducing pesticides and fertilizers needed to grow food, making factories more efficient or using renewable energy like solar or wind turbines.

Walmart also recently announced we’ll further our efforts to reduce chemicals of concern, like formaldehyde and phthalates, from consumable products sold in Walmart and Sam’s Clubs U.S. stores by 10% by 2022, becoming the first U.S. retailer to set a time-bound reduction goal. This applies to items like household cleaners, cosmetics, skincare and infant products, among others.

I’m proud that work like this puts us in the company of other organizations doing great things. Walmart was recently recognized on Fortune’s Change the World list, as one of 50 featured companies making social benefit part of their core business.

No one should have to choose between products they can afford and products that are good for the environment. As more of our suppliers join in our goal to sell products that are good for people and the planet, it will become easier for more families to buy products they know are produced as sustainably as possible.

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Community

In the Aftermath of a Disaster, Food Banks Help Communities Heal

It’s hard to prepare yourself to visit a community that’s been affected by disaster.

The week after Hurricane Harvey hit, I visited the Houston area to help Feeding America member organization, Houston Food Bank, with relief efforts. Despite learning as much as possible about the hurricane’s impact before I left, I was still shocked by what I saw – the good and bad alike.

Driving around the neighborhoods, I saw entire contents of people’s homes piled curbside. It had all been ruined in the flooding and needed to be discarded. I met several people who told me through tears that they’d lost everything – including Rosalba, a mother who, along with her five children, rode out the storm in a pickup truck, praying for safety as the water rose. The house she had been renting was no longer livable. With nowhere to go, Rosalba and her family had been sleeping in that same truck, parked on the front lawn of what remains of their home. Her landlord said the home would take six to nine months to renovate, so Rosalba was desperately trying to find a place for her family to live in the meantime.

I met Rosalba at a local food pantry that was distributing supplies and food to hundreds of people impacted by Harvey. She and her daughter were there to pick up ready-to-eat meals and toiletries to help them get by. They were extremely grateful for the support in this unexpected time of need.

When I visited The Houston Food Bank, it was overflowing with donations and volunteers. There were boxes upon boxes of donated supplies waiting to be delivered. I was there only five days after the food bank re-opened, and already, more than 5,000 people had been through its doors to volunteer. The community – and country – is truly banding together to help people rebuild.

Feeding America’s network of food banks reaches every county in every corner of our nation—making us uniquely prepared to respond in the event of a disaster. Within hours we are able to quickly deploy trucks and other solutions to help in communities where we already operate. From preparing for disasters before they hit, to responding during the disaster, to supporting families and communities through recovery, we offer food and hope for families as they seek to return to normalcy.

Food banks in Texas have provided essential supplies to people in need, including water, boxes of food and personal hygiene and cleaning items. They’ve also provided support to transitional shelters. Food banks farther away have helped, too, by pitching in to offer product, vehicles and other assistance as needed.

For me, it was humbling to be in Houston – meeting storm survivors and volunteers and seeing firsthand how much of a difference the Feeding America network was really making in people’s lives. It reminded me why I am passionate about the work that we do.

Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have been instrumental in relief efforts. Their commitment of over $37 million for hurricane response over the past few months includes specific contributions to Feeding America and its member food banks to help those affected by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. With this support, we’ll be able to help even more food and supplies get to communities in need.

Even with this outpouring of support, there’s still so much more to be done. For thousands of families like Rosalba’s, it will take time to recover. But I’m hopeful that with continued support, everyone who has been impacted will be able to get back on their feet a little sooner.

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U.S. Manufacturing

RedHead Wine is Raising a Glass to Family Traditions

Family traditions can tell us so much about where we come from, and play a big part in who we become and what we bring to the world. I come from a family of winemakers.

My grandparents, Dominic and Michele Sergi, both emigrated from Italy at the age of 14, bringing the tradition of winemaking with them to Lowellville, Ohio. My grandfather started out by buying California grapes from railcars just outside of Youngstown, Ohio, which he used to make wine to share with his friends and family. My father, Frank Sergi, learned the craft from him. Frank and my mother, Ruth, opened a winery and bistro in Youngstown called L’uva Bella (“the beautiful grape” in Italian), and it still successfully serves the community today.

For me, I wanted to create something of my own that would bring people together the same way my family’s winery does. I spent four years at Cornell University learning enology and viticulture, the study of winemaking and grape-growing, and working with our team at L’uva Bella. With a passion for the industry and a technical expertise, I created my own wine label, RedHead Wine. I’ve been very fortunate that I got it right and consumers enjoy its unique blend.

After months of selling it at local stores and regional outlets, I learned first-hand how rewarding sharing something you’ve made yourself can be. I knew I wanted to do more of it. When I heard about Walmart’s U.S. Manufacturing Open Call event, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to put our product on more shelves and on the tables of more people – something that Walmart’s size could help me accomplish.

In June, I presented my RedHead Red Blend to their buyer and was approved to test it in all 150-plus stores in Ohio. As of today, it’s available in 30 stores throughout Ohio and we expect to expand into Michigan stores in early 2018.

As a result, we are expecting additional growth at L’uva Bella winery, with the potential to increase production by almost four times and create new jobs for us in Youngstown.

I’m so grateful this new opportunity allows me to leverage my passion for wine and share our RedHead brand products with even more people. It’s personally fulfilling and rewarding to make a product that contributes to the celebration some of life’s happiest moments and often plays a part in bringing people together.

Growing my business and extending the legacy of my family’s artisan craft is a journey that has opened many doors for me, and I truly can’t wait to see what happens next.

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Community

Now Boarding: Critical Supplies Take Flight for Recovery

Since Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, one of the biggest obstacles to any relief effort has been difficulty landing aircraft on the island.

Puerto Rico’s international airports were closed in anticipation of the storm, and in the immediate wake of Maria, commercial airlines were unable to gain clearance for flights to deliver supplies. Yet, the need for emergency and medical supplies for the island’s people and communities remained high. That’s why Dan Williams, Walmart’s vice president of aviation, made the choice to use private company planes to carry critical supplies to the island.

To date, Walmart aviation has made four flights to Puerto Rico, carrying a variety of supplies and enough insulin to save 3,300 lives. In the video below, Dan talks about the island’s needs as his crew prepares for the third flight.

Dan and his pilots also carried paychecks for some of Puerto Rico’s 15,000 Walmart associates, many of whom were unable to electronically access them because communication systems were down.

While these flights have helped take care of some immediate needs, there’s much more left to be done. Jimmy Fallon of “The Tonight Show” announced on Monday night a collaboration with Walmart to donate $1 million to Puerto Rico relief through Feeding America and the Puerto Rico Food Bank. Throughout October, Walmart will also donate $2 to the Puerto Rico Relief Fund for every $1 donated, up to an additional $1 million. You can give here or through the Walmart app on your mobile device.

The Tonight Show Partners with Walmart to Donate $1M to Puerto...

Jimmy announces The Tonight Show's partnership with Walmart to donate $1 million to Puerto Rico relief through Feeding America and the Puerto Rico Food Bank. And for the rest of October, Walmart will be donating an additional $2 (up to $1 Million) for every $1 that YOU donate to the Walmart Puerto Rico Relief Fund! Here’s more on how to help:

Posted by The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on Monday, October 9, 2017

*Editor’s Note: Click here to view a version of the video with Spanish-language captioning.

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