To help meet local needs in Northwest Arkansas and across the state resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have committed more than $2 million to support organizations providing hunger relief, community support and health care services.
Erin Hogue, director of community operations and NWA giving at Walmart joined Northwest Arkansas Council President and CEO Nelson Peacock to talk more about the company’s efforts.
NP: This commitment is going to help a lot of people here locally and across the state. Can you tell us more about what the funds will support?
EH: One of the things I love about Walmart is that while we serve our communities from the retail side, we also complement that work with our philanthropy, especially here in Northwest Arkansas. In response to COVID-19, we’ve committed $2 million to organizations here and around the state.
A portion of these funds are supporting organizations that are connecting people with community resources; helping stand-up regional COVID-19 testing; and enhancing the screening capacity of the region through tele-health and translation services. The rest will help bolster immediate food security response here in Northwest Arkansas and in other parts of the state. These funds will directly support local organizations on the front lines providing hunger relief, meals and support for vulnerable groups like seniors.
NP: Why did you all decide to focus on helping organizations providing hunger relief and supporting health care services?
EH: Our roots run deep here in Arkansas. Taking care of our friends and neighbors here at home is important to us. Local organizations providing hunger relief and essential services are truly on the front lines of the COVID-19 response right now and helping those organizations get the resources they need to respond is at the core of our commitment.
Our support aims to strengthen the local community systems people rely on every day. I’m inspired by the cross-sector collaboration happening in the region. It’s amazing to see people and organizations come together for a common cause.
NP: Walmart has announced some other philanthropic donations. Is this commitment part of that?
EH: That’s right. These grants are part of a more than $25 million commitment announced by Walmart and the Walmart Foundation to support organizations on the front lines responding the COVID-19 outbreak. The funds are intended to strengthen the global public health response, bolster food security and support the needs of local communities in the U.S. and internationally.
As a company, we’re focused on serving our communities, now more than ever. During the pandemic, our associates have been working incredibly hard in our stores and clubs to provide our customers with access to food, medicine and other essentials. Whether it’s providing them with grocery pickup and delivery or contactless checkout with Walmart Pay on our app, special shopping hours for seniors or measures to promote social distancing, our associates are working hard to respond to local customer needs. Our nonprofit partners are also working tirelessly to serve the community and our intent is for these funds to further extend and support their vital work.
NP: Where would you point someone who is looking for more information about COVID-19 resources?
EH: Locally, there are several efforts underway to help individuals and organizations find the resources they need. Some great resources include the University of Arkansas Small Business Emergency Assistance Program, Arkansas Community Foundation’s COVID-19 Relief Fund, United Way of Northwest Arkansas 211 service and UAMS Health COVID-19 Resources.
NP: While our conversation has been focused on COVID-19 response, can you tell us more about how Walmart and the Walmart Foundation give back in their home region?
EH: In addition to our COVID response efforts, we remain committed to investing in programs that enhance the quality of life for our community. Our regional giving aims to facilitate regional coordination and planning, improve community access to healthier food for underserved communities, build a culture of inclusion and provide access to high-quality arts and recreation programs. I would encourage organizations to visit our website to learn more.
For a full list of organizations that have received a portion of the more than $25 million commitment from Walmart and the Walmart Foundation, go here. To see a list of just U.S. organizations, go here.