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New York non-profits balk at suggestion to snub Walmart money

NEW YORK (Reuters) - More than half of the New York City Council has asked Walmart to stop making charitable donations to local non-profits like the Coalition Against Hunger, and the groups are not happy about it.

Earlier this week, 26 members of the liberal-leaning council signed a letter from the group Walmart Free NYC saying the world's largest retailer, which for years has been blocked from opening a local outpost, is not welcome in the city.

The letter was also addressed to the Walton Family Foundation, a separate entity established by Walmart's founder, which says it has given some $16 million to New York City charter schools since 2004.

"Communities always lose far more than they gain from you," the letter said. "So, we are calling on you today to stop spending your dangerous dollars in our city."

The letter came days after Walmart announced it had given $3 million to New York City groups, including City Harvest and One Hundred Black Men, out of a total of $1.2 billion to non-profits nationally.

But Joel Berg, who heads the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, which this year collected $800,000 from Walmart - the coalition's single largest private donation - said he had no intention of giving the money back.

"I don't think there's a single non-profit group in America, or a single elected official in America, who agrees with every position of every donor," he said.

Walmart's critics say the company underpays and mistreats its workers, drives small businesses out of communities and hurts local manufacturers by importing cheap goods from overseas.

"We have no intention of stopping our giving to worthy causes," said Lorenzo Lopes, a Walmart spokesman. He said the company does not have "any current plans to go into New York City."

The family foundation also stood by its charitable giving, saying its grantees, which include Harlem Children's Zone and Success Academy are "serving families that for decades did not have access to high-quality schools." 

(Reporting By Edith Honan; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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