Bentonville, AR – For years Amanda Jacobson paid no attention the vagrants outside the Wal-Mart store she managed. Short of staff, and with no budget for more, suddenly the Will Work For Food sign held by a crippled veteran took on new meaning.
“I asked the bakery for the week old yeast rolls and headed outside,” Ms. Jacobson told reporters. “It was the beginning of a great relationship for the homeless and Wal-Mart. It’s a real win-win situation.”
Hiring panhandlers to work for food has proven to be a successful pilot program in several Wal-Mart stores. All amounts eaten are carefully tracked and translated into hours owed the company. The world’s largest retailer is known for keeping prices low for the consumer. This is just another aggressive price cutting strategy. “We think it’s genius,” said North American People Management Director, Walt Thompson. “This represents an amazing opportunity to help those in need while driving down prices and ensuring we’ve got the bodies to serve our customers.”
Thompson is working with the legal and tax divisions of the retail giant to determine if food distribution under the new employment model qualifies as a charitable tax deduction. Plans are already underway to expand the program.
Young mother Courtney Potter looks forward to the work-for-diapers program. “They don’t even make you interview,” she said.