It was a Saturday in early September last year. Martha Brown was among the enormous crowd of college football fans at Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium, standing and cheering wildly. The turnover that had just taken place was a huge play for Auburn. But for Martha, it was personal. Her son, Derrick, had made the fumble recovery in his very first game with the Auburn Tigers.
For this Walmart department manager and mother of three, it was a heartwarming validation of the countless hours she had put in supporting and guiding her son through years of practices, games and recruitment trips.
Twelve years ago, while working as a cashier in Buford, Georgia, Martha made a promise to her kids: She would never miss a game. That meant working overnight shifts and odd hours. “Sometimes, on Friday or Saturday nights, I came straight to work after a game,” she said. But through it all, Martha says her supervisors made every effort to accommodate her commitment to her children.
In fact, her store manager and fellow associates went even further, donating sports drinks and water to Derrick’s team and sponsoring picnics as a way to give back to the community.
Martha’s not working overnights anymore. Her 6:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. shift gives her the ability to spend time with her daughter and younger son, guiding them through afterschool activities. But that doesn’t mean Martha has stopped taking advantage of flexible scheduling. She’s still able to build her work shifts in such a way that she can make the long drive to Auburn – and away games all over the South – during the football season.
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.
At the age of 23, Luis Gomez is already doing the kind of work he’s always dreamed of.
Three years ago, Luis was a college student and working as a Walmart cashier, with an IT job on the side to make extra money. He took the first step toward his goal of working in tech for Walmart and applied for a job in server operations at the home office. Today, he’s a cybersecurity associate at the David Glass Technology Center.
“The biggest piece of advice I have for anyone just starting out in their career is to take every opportunity that comes your way,” he said. “If you’ve never done something, try it anyway. We’re all moving forward.”
Check out this video to see how a career in tech is not only powering Luis’s dreams, but is inspiring his family and co-workers to do even more for theirs.
Looking for tech jobs like Luis’s? Check out our careers site to see what positions are currently available.
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.
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.