Outrage Friday

Yeah, a little change-up, but I’m angry.

I stopped at Target today and right inside the front door, saw a display called Feed USA.  To wit:

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Like a normal person, I thought, “Ah, nice.”  Hunger has been on my mind since I watched a Bill Moyers episode about it recently.  (Most excellent show, by the way.  Highly recommend.)  That good feeling was quickly followed by suspicion from that cynic in me, jaded from years of studying pinkwashing.

So I looked at the tags on the clothes.  Here are some examples (thank you technology!)

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In order:  Made in Indonesia, Made in Indonesia, Made in China.

Maybe some of these hungry people wouldn’t be so hungry if this line of clothing were made in America.

Teach a man to fish, etc.

You’ll notice that they tell you how many people you can feed with your purchase.  For example, the last one, a Blue Karma scarf.  Not only will you apparently improve your status in your next life, but also you can feed 14 people.  Of course, the more money you spend, the more people you feed.  AND you can wear this scarf to let everyone know how noble you are.


Here’s an enlargement of the details.  10% of the cost you pay for each item will be donated to an organization called Feeding America. God bless those people; somehow they feel 8 people on $1.

I did some digging when I got home.  FEED USA is a part of The FEED Foundation, an organization that, interestingly, was started by George W Bush’s niece Laura. I’ll get to why that’s interesting in a minute. The foundation has a global mission but for the sake of this analysis, I will take the labels at their word and assume all of the money raised from the sale of these products will stay in the USA.

Still, I’ve got questions.

I could spend my day digging through financials, but judging from my experience with a certain perfume designed to cure breast cancer, I already know what I will find.

First of all, Target is already making a huge profit on these goods made overseas. It’s their business model.

Second:  they build in the price of the donation to the price.  Your run-of-the-mill Merona scarf from Target costs $14.99.  You’re paying $3.01 MORE for a scarf that promises to donate $1.80 to a food charity.

So where does that extra $1.21 go?

Best speculation — back to FEED USA and Feed America.  I have no idea what the executives of these foundations make, but don’t fool yourself into thinking they’re working for scraps.

And for Bush’s involvement that I find interesting?  Feeding America’s website speaks out against the cuts to SNAP from the last farm bill fiasco.  It was a bill that was tanked by, who?  That’s right, the Republicans. The party of George W Bush.  

Does your head hurt yet? I’ve got more.

Feeding America, the feed 8 people on $1 per meal, lists their partners on their site. ConAgra, which receives all sorts of criticism, including the ruination of the family farm.  WalMart, which pays its average worker $8.81 per hour, or more than enough for a family of four to qualify for, you guessed it, food stamps. These are just off the top of my head.  Dig a little deeper and I’m sure your head will hurt even more.

There’s an argument to be made that we all deserve to be compensated for our good works – Target for 2013-07-05 11.11.20getting involved, FOOD USA for doing whatever it does here, Feeding America for somehow providing 8 meals for $1, and you for buying.

I propose this: Buy the $14.99 scarf.  Write a check to your local food bank for $3.01. If it’s really that important to you that everyone know you are generous, brag about it on a blog, facebook, to your family and friends.

There are other more drastic ideas too.  Like, don’t buy the scarf and give $18 to your local food bank.

With just a little more thought and a little less impulse, we can shut this down.

I walked out of Target this morning without my purchases.