A December 12 2019 MSN.com post with the headline “Aldi issues plea for vulnerable people to come and collect free food on Christmas Eve” was making the Facebook rounds as Christmas Eve 2019 approached, with innumerable shares appearing in the days leading up to the holiday.
German discounter Aldi has pledged to give all of its unsold fresh food to charity after stores close on Christmas Eve.
The supermarket chain issued a plea online, calling for organisations across the country to head into stores on December 24 to collect surplus stock.
The company said it wants to share products out with groups such as food banks in support of “less fortunate individuals” in order to “prevent food going to waste”.
The supermarket said: “Aldi is offering local organisations the opportunity to receive surplus food from their stores on the afternoon of Christmas Eve.
However, the article’s concluding paragraphs were United Kingdom-centric:
A few weeks ago, the Trussell Trust released data which showed that April to September 2019 was the busiest half-year period for food banks in its network since the charity opened.
During those six months, 823,145 three-day emergency food parcels were given to people in crisis in the UK, with more than a third of these (301,653) going to children.
A teensy, tiny logo at the top read “MIRROR,” and that logo had a link to the British tabloid Mirror (mirror.co.uk). When it was re-shared to MSN.com, it was easy to miss the logo when it was widely shared in the United States — despite no indication that American Aldi stores were doing anything of the sort.
The item was originally published by the Mirror‘s site on the same day that it was aggregated by MSN.com. That headline was slightly different, however:”Aldi is handing out its food free to vulnerable people on Christmas Eve.”
On December 18 2019, the UK’s Independent carried the story, but its regionality was right up front in the first few paragraphs:
Aldi is donating surplus food on Christmas Eve to vulnerable people who are in need.
As part of the annual festive initiative, charities and community groups from around the UK have been called upon to collect food donations from the supermarket’s branches.
Dozens of American Aldi shoppers asked about the rumor on Aldi USA’s Facebook page. Although we didn’t find any comment specifically from any brand representative, fellow users pointed out that the chain addressed the same rumor when it spread possibly via the same irresponsible reporting in 2018:
ALDI USA operates independently from ALDI in other countries. We aren’t currently implementing a nationwide Christmas Eve food donation, but we do give back to our communities in partnership with Feeding America. All of our stores work with local food banks in the Feeding America network to donate overstocked food products, short-dated items or products with lightly damaged packaging that are still safe for consumption.
In fact, we just completed an effort to bring more food to people this holiday season by teaming up with Instacart and Feeding America. On #GivingTuesday, every ALDI purchase made via Instacart was matched by ALDI with a donation to Feeding America, totaling up to 1 million meals. Instacart also waived the delivery fee for all ALDI orders of $35 or more, donating the value of each waived fee to Feeding America.
Numerous users asked if it was really true that German grocery chain Aldi was giving food to needy people on Christmas Eve, but the story seemed to be spreading widely in the United States as well as in the United Kingdom. Aldi USA and Aldi in the UK operate separately, and Aldi USA noted in 2018 that they had no plans to distribute food on Christmas Eve specifically. In 2019, the brand made no announcements indicating their position had changed.