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First Lady Michelle Obama paid a visit to a Springfield, Mo., Walmart store on Feb. 28 to mark the mega-retailer’s accomplishments in making food healthier, more affordable and more available to its customers.
In the first two years of Walmart’s healthier-food initiative, the company has saved shoppers $2.3 billion on fresh fruits and vegetables; created and introduced a front-of-package icon that will appear on more than 1,300 Walmart Great Value and Marketside items, as well as fresh and packaged fruits and vegetables; lowered salt and sugar content in its private-brand and national food brands; and opened 86 stores in neighborhoods without other access to fresh, affordable groceries, among other achievements.
“We are proud of the work we have done in the last two years to make it easier and more affordable for our customers to buy healthier food, and we know there is more work to do,” said Leslie Dach, EVP of corporate affairs at Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc. “We applaud First Lady Michelle Obama ‘s continued leadership. Her passion is encouraging companies and organizations, like Walmart, to make continued progress that positively affects the health and wellness of the communities we serve.”
“At Walmart, we want to make healthier eating simple and easy,” said Andrea Thomas, Walmart’s SVP of sustainability. “One of the ways we are doing this is by helping families quickly identify healthier food options and taking added sugar, salt and trans fats out of the everyday food customers buy, while keeping the great taste they expect.”
“For years, the conventional wisdom said that healthy products simply didn’t sell -- that the demand wasn’t there, that higher profits were found elsewhere, so it just wasn’t worth the investment,” noted Michelle Obama. “Thanks to Walmart and so many other great American businesses, we are proving the conventional wisdom wrong. Every day, with their success, these companies are showing us that what’s good for kids and good for family budgets can also be good for business.”
Additionally, in 2012, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation provided more than $13 million in grants to programs across the United States that support nutrition education, cooking skills and healthy eating.
During her appearance at the Springfield store, Obama met local teacher Stephanie Kennedy, who since adopting her grandchildren has lost 70 pounds by eating healthier, and is now trying to teach her students and grandchildren about better nutrition.
Tours like the one the First Lady participated in are part of the “Shopping Matters” and “Cooking Matters” programs that the Walmart Foundation funds through Washington, D.C.-based hunger-relief organization Share Our Strength. The tours, offered at select Walmart stores across the country, feature teachers and chefs instructing low-income shoppers in how to maximize tight budgets and still make healthier food choices.
Walmart serves customers and members at more than 10,700 retail units under 69 different banners.