Focusing on Hunger Relief
In 2020, the issue of food insecurity became more dire than ever as business closures and layoffs led millions of people to wonder where their next meal would come from. WM and our employees responded to this crisis by making hunger relief a priority throughout the year. At the onset of the pandemic, we launched our Million Meals Campaign, which helped our partners, Feeding America and Food Banks Canada, provide meals to communities across North America through employee contributions and a company match.
As the year went on and the pandemic continued to impact individuals and families across our service areas, we launched a second program, A Can if You Can. Over two weeks, WM matched $1 per can and $1 for each dollar donated by employees, up to $50,000. These programs represent our team members’ ongoing efforts to put People First. Combined, the WM family provided over 3 million meals for people experiencing food insecurity in 2020.
Helping Hungry Neighbors
In addition, local WM teams organized hunger relief campaigns in their own backyards. For example, teams in Brevard, Martin, Pinellas and Collier counties, Florida; and the South Bronx, New York; collected canned goods and produce for distribution to local food banks and nonprofits. WM facilities, including Grand Central Hauling in Pennsylvania and Varick Transfer Station in Brooklyn, New York, provided space for food collection events and distribution. In Northern California, WM donated a 40-yard cardboard-only bin to the local Salvation Army, which was struggling to dispose of the packaging it was generating from an increased number of food donations. Because of WM’s partnership, the charity was able to focus its resources on serving more people.
In our Four Corners market area, many operating sites adopted nonprofits for the holidays, collecting in-kind items and monetary donations. By coming together, the team purchased or collected 4,226 pounds of food and provided 49,650 meals.
WM’s Waste Watch Heroes
When WM drivers are on their routes, they become trusted eyes and ears on the streets. For more than a decade, our Waste Watch® program has trained thousands of drivers to recognize and handle situations that don’t seem right. Program participants learn to properly observe and report suspicious activities and emergencies to local public safety and law enforcement agencies.
To become a Waste Watch-certified driver, an employee must complete a formal training program, which includes instruction from WM corporate security and local law enforcement personnel, and a written exam. The Waste Watch program has received national acclaim, earning recognition from local municipalities and the National Sheriffs’ Association’s Award of Excellence in Neighborhood Watch. Our drivers have been lauded for reporting suspicious activity ranging from thefts to vandalism.
Recent Waste Watch heroes include:
Robert Riley of Tampa, Florida, noticed a toddler wandering alone in a park a short distance from his truck and waited to see if a parent or guardian would appear. When none did, he checked on the boy and called 911, allowing him to be reunited with his family. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement named Riley its “Florida Missing Children’s Day Citizen of the Year” for his actions. Later that month, Riley helped an elderly man who had fallen on a sidewalk. He was recognized by the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners for his acts of kindness.
Drivers Sam Vaughan and Andrew Hubar noticed a man bleeding on the sidewalk in an Edmonton, Alberta, neighborhood they serve and stopped to help deliver first aid. They then waited with the man until further assistance arrived. A neighbor wrote to thank the drivers: “I wanted to make sure WM became aware to properly recognize these men—they did a great job and deserve praise for their professionalism.”
Alex Keys, a driver and veteran volunteer firefighter, detected smoke while traveling back to the Green Ridge Landfill in Fort Edward, New York. He spotted a house with flames shooting out of the upstairs window and immediately pulled his truck over. After pounding on the door, he and another truck driver called 911 and got all of the occupants out while the fire department was on the way.
In addition to Waste Watch, we partner with safety-related organizations and programs, including AMBER Alert, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, Community Crime Stoppers and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.