Thursday, January 20, 2011

File Under Wal-Mart Believe It or Not...

1 Day After New National Study Links Wal-mart to Increased Obesity, Retailer Promises to Promote Healthy Foods

Smoke Screen PR Push Comes From Largest US Employer of Workers on Food Stamps

New York City Green Grocers Say They’ll Be Squeezed Out by Wal-mart

Wal-mart’s announcement today to promote healthy, affordable food was met with skepticism by New York City’s anti-hunger advocates, faith leaders, and green grocers.

Wal-mart’s rhetoric doesn’t match reality,” said Bertha Lewis, President, The Black Leadership Institute.

They promise to create jobs- but they just squeeze out the little guy. Now they’re promising to promote healthy foods. The fact of the matter is, right here, right now, they’re contributing to the obesity epidemic.”

If Wal-mart wants access to OUR communities, it should come back when its track record is as impressive as its PR campaign,” Lewis continued.

The retailer’s announcement today comes on the heels of a new national study reported yesterday by NPR linking Wal-mart to increased obesity rates. According to Charles Courtemanche, an assistant professor of economics at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro: “the most obvious story is that Wal-mart lowers the price of foods and a lot of the foods it has big price advantages on are the processed, inner-aisle types of food that aren’t that good for you."

New York’s green grocers said they’re working hard to provide high quality fruits and vegetables in every corner of the city, but they don’t stand a chance against Wal-mart. Studies have shown that Wal-mart pushes out small businesses and the workers they employ when it opens new stores.

More than 1,200 green grocers offer fresh, affordable produce to New York’s low-income communities,” said Sung Soo Kim, President of the Korean-American Small Business Service Center of New York. “If Wal-mart moves in, they’ll all be squeezed out.”

A 2009 study by the University of Illinois at Chicago and Loyola University Chicago found that the closer a store’s proximity to Wal-mart’s location in the Austin neighborhood of Chicago, the more likely they were to go out of business.

In Chicago, 82 local retailers were pushed out by Wal-mart: “The findings support the contention that urban Wal-mart stores absorb sales from other city stores without significantly expanding the market.” In addition, the study found that there was no increase in retail activity or employment opportunities.

This study reveals what we have suspected to be true all along, When Wal-Mart comes to urban areas, communities suffer. Not only jobs and small businesses are threatened but peoples bodies are put at risk. NYC needs solutions that cultivate the image of god in our communities; that support local business and public health,” said Lisa Sharon Harper, Executive Director of New York Faith and Justice.

Adults in East New York and New Lots, where Wal-mart is proposing a new store, have an increased risk of heart disease, obesity, and diabetes- 3 in 10 adults are obese.

Wal-mart Free NYC is a coalition of concerned workers and residents, small business owners, community leaders, clergy and elected officials who are committed to increasing economic opportunities, preserving local businesses, and bringing more jobs to communities across New York.