Council members question Walmart's disposal of food after power outages

Michael Tortorich
Donaldsonville City Councilmen Raymond Aucoin, Rev. Charles Brown Sr., and Lauthaught Delaney Sr. look over an agenda item during the Tuesday, Nov. 26 meeting at City Hall.

Donaldsonville City Council members expressed their concerns Tuesday over the loss of food due to power outages at one of the city's largest grocers.

Councilman Lauthaught Delaney Sr. requested to amend the agenda of the Nov. 26 meeting to discuss the issue at the Walmart store, located at 37000 Hwy. 3089.

Delaney said every time the store loses electricity for an extended period of time, employees throw away all of the refrigerated food.

"I don't know what we can do, but it's a problem and it's continually happening," he said.

Mayor Leroy Sullivan Sr. said he was told by management that every time there is such a major loss, it gets turned in to the store's insurance carrier.

Councilman Charles Brown Sr. said in the event of a hurricane or a natural disaster, it's important to have food outlets open first.

Delaney suggested the possibility of a generator, to which Sullivan said the Walmart in Gonzales does not have one, to his knowledge.

Councilman Raymond Aucoin followed by saying: "Obviously they put the pencil to it and it doesn't make sense to go that route."

Councilman Brent Landry said it would take a public outcry to get the heads of the store to pay attention.

"It shows a complete lack of compassion for the customer base they serve," Landry said.

Walmart holds a dominant retail presence in the city, as evidenced by the store serving as an anchor for a strip of mostly national chains within the special sales tax district known as the Donaldsonville Annex.

A request for comment on the matter was sent to Walmart's media relations department via the company's web site during the meeting Tuesday night.

After three days, no response was received.

Two years ago, a video went viral after a man captured employees throwing away baskets full of food at an Ohio Walmart. The store released a statement explaining a power outage due to a tornado prompted the disposal.

"Per internal and health department policies, we followed proper procedures by disposing of the food," the Ohio store's statement read.

Various news articles from across the country indicate similar situations where grocery employees, from both Walmart and other grocers, threw out refrigerated food after electricity outages.

In other matters before the Council Tuesday:

-- Council members voted to authorize the Mayor to approve payments for sewer work. Invoices were approved for GSA, Boone Services LLC, and Grady Crawford.

-- During the public comment period, Delaney spoke as a resident to commend The Chief, the city's official journal, for its quality of coverage of the city over recent issues.

Delaney said he wanted to publicly compliment the newspaper staff for its reporting on local matters.

-- The annual Charity Ball to benefit The Mayor's Youth Advisory Council will be held Saturday, Dec. 14 from 7 p.m. to midnight at Palazzo Bernardo, 2244 Hwy. 3120.

Red Tape Musiq will perform from 7 to 10 p.m., followed by DJ Major for the remainder of the night.

Tickets are $50 each ($450 for a table of ten).

Proceeds will go toward the MYAC's costs throughout the school year. The MYAC is comprised of local high school students.

For more information, call 225-473-4247 ext. 10.