As the Flint water crisis wears on, some unlikely players are entering the story.
“We are grateful for Walmart and their suppliers’ support during this crisis,” Bilal Tawwab, Flint Community Schools Superintendent, said in a statement. “With their generous support, district students will have access to clean drinking water, and more importantly, the ability to focus on their education.”
Flint’s water has been impacted by a 2014 decision to use untreated water from the heavily toxic Flint river as a drinking supply. Flint’s water once again began flowing from Detroit as of October, but many residents had at that point enjoyed over a year and a half of toxic drinking water.
The city and state have since declared a public health emergency. Hit hardest were Flint area children; the crisis was discovered as local medical personnel began noticing staggeringly high lead levels.
Officials at Walmart said the water crisis has become personal.
“Those affected include our own associates, customers and their families,” said Beth Harris, store manager at a Flint Walmart. “Our associates are proud to be a part of the effort to help our friends and neighbors.”
“Access to safe water is a basic human right,” Tony West, executive vice president of government affairs at PepsiCo, said in the statement, adding that the donation announced Tuesday “will allow Flint school children and their parents to focus on their education rather than where they can find clean water.”
Walmart further noted in a release that it has “already donated 14 trucks of water, or 504,000 bottles, and 1,792 water filters to the Flint community” since July.
Coca-Cola has donated nearly 80,000 bottles of Dasani and Nestlé Waters North America has donated 190,000 bottles to Flint community organizations.