portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article reporting portland metro

corporate dominance | neighborhood news

Food giveaway, or corporate gimmick?

Recently, the Sunday Whoregonian (we only look at the pictures) included a shopping bag, that shoppers could fill for the Oregon Food Bank, a worthy cause. Read on, dear reader:
The bag was printed up in large logos, the largest of which was the logo of Albertson's. That would indicate to me that when the bag was full, I could drop it off at Albertson's for delivery to the food bank, right? Not so. The logo was printed on the bag in several places, along with this suggestion " Stop by your local ALBERTSONS today for high protein items to fill this bag." There were other logos which I ignored at first, since I do not care a whit for Jiffy Lube, U.S Bank, Weyerhaueser, Nike, The Commerce Company, etc. The bag itself is emblazoned with "designed by Nike".
Well, to my great surprise, after I filled the bag (not at Albertson's thank the Godess), drove twenty miles to the nearest big A (the food bank is twice that far), and slid across the frozen parking lot, (Oregon City Albertson's), I checked with several employees inside, who were almost as amazed as was I, to learn that there was no drop off spot, or barrel, etc. in the store. To her credit, the head clerk told me that she knew someone at the store who goes right by the food bank, and she would see that it got delivered, and I walked out scratching my bald head.
On the way home, we discussed the incident, and found it worth our effort to search our recycling box, to see if we could find another bag, and determine what was the problem?
Turns out that the Albertson's bag had smaller print (surprise!) which indicated that we should fill the bag, preferably at their store, then drop it off at a Jiffy Lube, or a U.S. Bank. And hey, if we had taken it to Jiffy Lube, we could even have received a coupon, good for thirty one dollars off of (a year's worth) of lube services.
Isn't that keen? Thank you corporate Amerika, your generousity with your advertisement amazes me.
where to take it... 22.Nov.2005 08:48


I have had similar trouble trying to find a place to take donated food for the Oregon Food Bank. We live about 40 miles from Portland, so it is not always possible for us to drive clear out to the food bank. In the past, I have relied upon the local markets to provide food barrels and have put our donations there. Lately, when I ask about those barrels, I am often met with a blank stare. "Huh?" Already there are stories about how empty the food bank shelves have become, so it is frustrating to be looking for a way to make donations and not finding any.

at your door 22.Nov.2005 10:17


I don't remember what time of year they have it but the mail carriers have a food bank drive and they'll pick it up at your door.

You're right about the logos. 22.Nov.2005 10:35


How nice of you, though, to take the time and effort of filling the bag! Mutual aid. When the shit hits the fan, we will be able to count on each other, because people like you are willing to share your resources with people who are hungry.

not just the logos, but the product itself is poison 22.Nov.2005 14:06


having worked in refugee camps and having seen the kinds of food they feed people who are trying to live off rations, i could no longer ingnore some facts:

1. most corporate sponsored food drives are a PR ploy designed to draw free marketing. you know, a "win-win" situation.

2. most corporte food is highly processed with only a few nutrients left for digestion by the consumer of the product.

3. most corporate food includes genetically engineered ingredients including corn, soy, tomatoes, wheat, rice etc..

4. there's also the question of chemical residues from agro-chemical land minning we call farming in the US. most chemical farmers use highly toxic chemicals in every step of the growing process.
when grapes from chile get rejected in europe because of their toxic residue, they are shipped to the US.
5. why remove the germ?? the wheat germ holds most essential nutrients in this vital grain, but most donated wheat has been stripped of the germ and therefore, stripped of 90% of its nutrients including fiber. same with rice.

the poor refugees would have to eat 25 cups of white rice a day to get the FDA daily allowence of fiber. brown rice, the whole-grain cousin of the processed white rice, can deliver enough daily fiber with 2 8oz cups.

this food is making refugees very sick.

Sharing 22.Nov.2005 14:34


You r right Matilda. People should not be hungry...ever! While out today, I did see that Fred Meyers has a collection box near their door for the Sunshine Division. I am sure other stores also provide collection areas. Those just make it possible for folks who have no other way to donate to participate. As far as counting on community is concerned, the mess in Louisiana and surrounding states have graphically reminded us that all we have is each other.

could be worse 22.Nov.2005 22:52


I was reading in the paper a while ago about a visiting Russian businessman. He was amazed to see that businesses here actually can play a beneficial role in the community. Over there, it was simply the profit motive that guided them. So looking on the bright side of things, it could be a lot worse!

Portland Rescue Mission Fundraising 23.Nov.2005 06:00

radio listener

For the next day or so you can give to the Portland Rescue Mission by logging on kink.fm - that's the music station 101.9 that co-sponsored the Katrina Blues Fest on Waterfront Park. The phone-in donation days are over, but you can still donate online.

Not to change the subject, but just in case people reading & commenting on this article are actually wanting to donate to another good local cause, it's a Thanksgiving fundraising drive...

Portland Mission? 23.Nov.2005 06:47


Don't you have to praise Jeebus to get fed by them?

food bank 23.Nov.2005 09:02

karl roenfanz ( rosey ) k_rosey48@hotmail.com

i try to give direct to the charities, a lot of the corp.s (mcdon for one) will take yours and relay it under their own name. good tax break, promotions for the upper man.

sisters of the road 23.Nov.2005 10:59


In the past, we have taken food directly to Sisters and it has been welcomed. They prefer larger quantites of the basics, since they feed so many. Single cans of goods cannot do them all that much good. I also prefer to take the food to those who need it rather than send a check or go through some corporate benefit program. It just makes more sense to me.

Food for Refugees 23.Nov.2005 14:02


Actually, efforts are made to give refugees dry food goods that they can cook for themselves because cooked food spoils quickly and it's hard to prepare enough of it or organize serving it in a large camp. The downside of dry rations is that combatants can steal them or unfairly distribute them unless there is proper monitoring. Furthermore, rations are distributed with the understanding that refugees will trade and barter with local communities for fresh produce, meat, etc. Hence all the WFP sacks that turn up in markets located near refugee camps. While obviously food in camps is not what any of us would want to eat, efforts are made to ensure that the basic food basket is nutritionally balanced and the international relief organizations that secure food aid and distribute it are not exactly corporate America.

that's a very marry picture of refugee camps. 23.Nov.2005 18:56

out of touch

you sound like you work for UNHCR. you're giving me the same BS they gave me when i started asking questions.

FDA, EPA, EU, UN and don't forge the world bank and IMF are all part of the same corporate blood sucking vampire. who do you think they buy all that "aid" from?? from small local farmers?? ofcourse not you dimwitt. they buy from large corporate farms who have large contracts with these so called humanitarian agencies. back door deals, corrupt families and corporations are a big part of this process.

these agencies and others spend millions if not billion to provide the basic necessities you speak of, but not one cent is spent on building local, sustainable agricultural systems, but that would mean their eventual independance from western powers. the refugees i worked with were getting two pounds of rice, two pounds of sugar and two pounds of white flour for a whole month for a family of four. oh yeah, don't forget the $10/month they are suppose to use to buy perishables. they usually would have to give the money back to these so called humanitarian agencies for much needed medicines.

dry goods you speak of are: white rice, white flour and white sugar. these provide almost zero nutrition and infact, study after study has proven their dire effect on the poor people forced to eat this crap. i do remember that at least one african country refused to allow GMO crops from the UN as "aid". more like a massive human experiment. and when this stuff makes them sick, the corporate whores are there to offer corporate made anti-biotics and pain killers, which create a whole host of other problems.
do you see a cycle here? if not, you're brain dead.

Rude, rude, out of touch 23.Nov.2005 19:19

AE Newman

Hey, we are all just trying to do our own little part, to get the most good from the least possible contribution to the corporate machine. We really do not need to be so damn confrontational. If my methods, or the level of my motivation are not suitable to you, that is most probably your problem. Disparaging me or others, for what little, or lot they can do, is simply your way of justifying your actions or lack of them. Do what you can, share if you can, but stop acting like the freakin president.

why knock 24.Nov.2005 01:03

the portland mission

do they feed people? do they assist the downtrodden?
do they do it from their own belief system?
isn't that just another form of a collective?

if you took the time and energy to form a feeding program
would you have your participants denounce or listen to your rants
of corporate amerika and the like?

get off your soap box

GMO crops from the UN as "aid" 24.Nov.2005 08:05


Actually, that was Zambia, refusing USAID, which is never actually aid, but a loan which must be repaid, and which must be spent in USA, on approved products, like weapons, or in this case, GM corn, and they weren't allowed to grind it to make sure it couldn't be stolen and sold as seed.

What Zambia really needed was, not US $1million, to ship frankenfood from another continent, but $50thousand, to truck a bumper crop of cassava from the north of the Zambia to the south.

It is to be noted that the people in the south stated that they prefered the risk of famine to tainted food. In the end they made other arrangements. And some of the usual propaganda outlets published false stories about a brutal dictator starving his people.

The UN, being perpetually close to insolvency, because certain wealthy nations neglect to pay their dues and selectively fund only those programmes which they "support", does not give "aid", neither goods nor money. The UN asks/pleads/begs others to supply goods and services and funds, and lends its expertise and legitimacy.

Legitimate Aid 24.Nov.2005 08:46


Legitimate Aid Agencies prefer to buy staple food-stuffs, rice, beans, oil, nearby. People know how to prepare them. People's stomaches know how to digest them. They are a lot cheaper if they are not shipped half-way around the world.

Manufactured food, such as we find in our slop-troughs are deficient in vital nutrients, and are often poisonous to other people.. to ourselves. For example, vitamins tend to be destroyed. For example, the germ (the protein) is stripped out by manufacturers because it spoils much faster than starch and cellulose. For example, it tends to be laced with salt, which must be excreted, which increases the burden on over-burdened water-supplies, and which strips vital hard to replace potassium. For example, manufactured food invariably contains manufactured "fats", because they don't spoil like natural oils, and they don't digest, either.

AS '*', above, indicates, ready-to-eat food tends to be snatched by men, who sell it or carry it up into the hills. Food which must be cooked tends to be turned over to the women, who try to feed their children and any men who stay around to help out.

You may remember that US denied aid organizations entrance to Afganistan for six-months or so after the occupation. US forces claimed they would care for the survivors. They air-dropped "Meals Ready to Eat", at some distance from camps and population centres, too far for women and children to fetch it. They provisioned the bandits and warlords.

Also, they supplied these MREs in yellow packages, the same colour as (deliberately) unexploded cluster-bomblets. Hungry children don't often wait for the bomb-squad robot to check things over.

Food aid 24.Nov.2005 11:33


Thanks to the previous poster for some good insights. It's also important to note that international organizations are aware that famines are usually not caused by food shortages, but by hoarding or rising prices of food. The problem is figuring this out early enough in the game to do something about it, like provide subsizided staple foods. And yes, organizations do make efforts to provide local supplies-- they need to get them to people quickly, so this is important. For instance, in some parts of Africa peanuts are a staple food, and aid agencies have tried to provide peanuts because people are familiar with them.

Another stumbling block to effective refugee assistance is the unwillingness of host countries to allow refugees to integrate or settle locally. In part due to lack of resources to support refugee populations, host countries may force refugees to remain confined in camps, often in desert border regions, where they are unable to farm for themselves or engage in economic activities to become self-sufficient. Often there is conflict over land with locals, or refugees forage for food and firewood out of desperation and wind up causing deforestation and desertification in the areas surrounding camps.

This, combined with protracted conflicts and other situations that prevent refugees from returning home, results in "warehousing," when refugees are stuck in camps for years while the international community forgets about them and the aid tapers off.

So, the refugee situation is *a lot more complex* than just big bad corporations in cahoots with UNHCR.