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    Walmart Store Tours Educate 1,000 Md. Shoppers

    ‘Shopping Matters’ teaches how to buy healthy groceries on a budget

    More than 1,000 shoppers at Walmart stores across Maryland learned how to buy nutritious food on a limited budget in the latest series of interactive educational tours offered at the locations under the “Shopping Matters” program from Washington, D.C.-based anti-hunger nonprofit Share Our Strength.

    Led by Walmart associates, the store tours teach shoppers to compare unit prices, read food labels, identify whole grains, and buy fruits and vegetables on a limited budget. Following the tour, participants use their new skills to buy the ingredients to prepare a healthy meal for a family of four, for less than $10.

    “We recently released a study that showed 85 percent of low-income families want to make healthy meals, but only about half are able to do so on a regular basis,” noted Janet McLaughlin, senior director of Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters. “The cost of groceries is a big concern for Maryland families, but healthy eating doesn't have to break the bank.”

    As well as the tours, two Walmart stores held activities focused on healthy living for their surrounding communities. At the Bowie and Baltimore (Port Covington) locations, chefs and students from the American Culinary Federation showed how to make mango salsa and taught shoppers about knife skills and safety, while children learned about the MyPlate food icon and played games with the Wizard Girls, the official dance team of the Washington Wizards, and athletes from the University of Maryland.

    Shopping Matters is an initiative of Share Our Strength’s “Cooking Matters,” a program that helps low-income families get the most bang for their buck at the grocery store and cook healthy meals. In early 2012, the Walmart Foundation donated $4 million to Share Our Strength to support the implementation of Shopping Matters tours across the United States and to reach low-income families with hands-on cooking, shopping and nutrition education in six-week Cooking Matters courses.

    Tours began in Maryland early this year and will continue to roll out across the state as part of the Partnership to End Childhood Hunger, part of Maryland’s efforts to boost access to healthy food for children at risk of hunger. Cooking Matters and Shopping Matters are part of the “No Kid Hungry” campaign, which aims to end childhood hunger in America by connecting needy kids with nutritious food and offering families instruction in how to cook healthy meals.

    After finishing a Shopping Matters tour, 54 percent of participants say they plan to compare unit prices to get the best deal, and 56 percent say they’ll look for whole grains on ingredient lists, according to Share Our Strength.

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