Save Money, Eat Better: Walmart: Announces New Healthy Food Initiative

This morning in DC, in cooperation with First Lady Michelle Obama, the Let’s Move program and the Partnership for a Healthier America, Walmart announced a comprehensive five-point healthy food initiative. Like Walmart’s stores, its Sustainability Index, its sales volume, well, like everything Walmart does, this effort is BIG and demonstrates once again Walmart’s leadership in sustainability and its willingness to respond to customer demands and concerns.

America is experiencing a food crisis. We are overfed and undernourished. Obesity and its related diseases are up, both in children and adults; healthier foods are often cost prohibitive; food deserts limit access to nutritious foods; junk qualifies as lunch in most school cafeterias and lengthy ingredient lists continue to confuse and mystify. Eating well in the US can be a challenge, but the world’s largest retailer is working to lighten this load.

Let’s take a look at the plan. Adapted from today’s Press Release the five elements outlined are:

  • Reformulating thousands of everyday packaged food items by 2015:
    • This includes reducing sodium 25 percent and added sugars 10 percent, and by removing all remaining industrially produced trans fats. Let me say it again: NO TRANS FAT! This is a personal biggie. I am tired of reading labels, scanning for hydrogenation (partially or otherwise).
  • Make healthier foods more affordable:
    • With enhanced supply chain logistics, Walmart intends to save customers $1 billion a year on fresh fruits and vegetables.
  • Develop criteria for a front-of-package seal:
    • This will help customers identify healthier options.
  • Help eliminate food deserts by building stores in underserved areas.
  • Increasing charitable contributions to food programs.
    • This effort seems to be well underway. Two days ago the Walmart Foundation announced a $2 million donation to help green food banks.

In addition to White House support, today’s announcement has been publicly applauded by former Governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee; Jamie Oliver of the Food Revolution; the American Heart Association; Newt Gingrich and yours truly, just to name a few. Walmart is moving in a positive direction and it is my sincere hope that other retailers follow suit. Such efforts can only improve our national health, finances and overall wellbeing. Now, if you will excuse me I have to make a Sam’s run. I vote with my wallet, don’t you?

Leslie is a Sustainable MBA student at Green Mountain College. Study interests include sustainability, social responsibility and the power of corporate and non-profit partnerships to bring about positive change. Other areas of interest include social media, fundraising and public policy. She holds a Certificate in Nonprofit Management and is certified in the Global Reporting initiative for Sustainability Reporting. Additionally, she holds an MA in Organizational Management and a BS in Leisure Management. On the rare occasions when she is not studying, she enjoys writing, reading, running, nature walks and yoga. She hopes to use her skills, talents and education to make a positive impact with an environmentally and socially conscious organization. Feel free to connect with her on LinkedIn.