Special delivery for Meals on Wheels

Last Thursday, Margaret Popko opened her front door to receive her lunch. But it wasn’t a normal delivery, just like Margaret isn’t a normal Meals On Wheels recipient.

Jimmy Carter was president, Laverne & Shirley was the most watched television show and Star Wars was the nation’s biggest film when Margaret first volunteered for the Lutheran Service Society of Western Pennsylvania.

She spent 36 years in a small church kitchen in Clairton, about 30 minutes south of Pittsburgh. Like all of our volunteers, Margaret wanted to lend a hand to people in the community who aren’t able to grocery shop or cook for themselves.

A few months ago, she was no longer able to make it into the kitchen on a regular basis. At age 95, she joined the nearly 1,000 individuals who receive a meal from us every day.

But there was a problem: our Meals On Wheels kitchen was short on wheels.

Individual volunteers had to use their own cars to transport food from the nearby food bank to our kitchens, and from our kitchen to hundreds of homes throughout the region. It limited how many people like Margaret we were able to serve.

We needed help. Se we applied for a grant through the Walmart Foundation. A few months later, as part of Walmart’s $2 billion commitment to end hunger in the United States, the Foundation awarded us a $65,000 grant to purchase a delivery vehicle.

We officially unveiled the new van on Thursday. Several Walmart associates helped in the kitchen earlier that day.

The decision of who should receive the inaugural meal was an easy one.  

Store Manager Ed Protiva from the nearby Walmart greeted Margaret at her door. Our brand new van was parked on the street outside.

“That should make things easier!” Margaret said. “It looks good.”

From Clairton the van went on to deliver food for individuals in Allegheny, Beaver, Butler and Mercer counties.

A single meal may not seem like much, but each and every delivery we make is a connection, a conversation, and a helping hand that people depend on. Walmart’s dedication to our community makes a big difference to us, and makes it possible for use to serve more people like Margaret.

Patty Davidson is the Chief Development Officer of the Lutheran Service Society of Western Pa. To learn more about LSSWPA or to volunteer for the Meals On Wheels program, please visit



#FiveThingsFriday: Cleaner Stores, Higher Sales and Purveyor of Fine Mangoes

ICYMI: Cleaner stores and higher sales … it’s definitely no Vudu. However, all of these are in the news this week, along with retail’s most marvelous mangoes, Chef Robert Irvine’s delicious new dishes and a new focus on food safety.

Cleaner. Faster. Friendlier.

I mentioned our training academies a couple of weeks ago, as well as how they were a part of a larger investment in our workforce. A $2.7 billion investment, to be exact. New York Times reporter Neil Irwin mentioned it as well this week in this article about how that investment is starting to show positive returns. The wage aspect of Walmart’s commitment to its associates has gotten a fair amount of conversation, but equally important are the training and education components. If our associates know how to do their jobs to the best of their abilities, they’ll be able to provide the best customer service possible. I hope you’re noticing these changes in your local stores, too!

A New Brand of Celebrity Sidekicks

What do celebrity chef Robert Irvine and your parents have in common? They both want you to eat your veggies, bub! Signature Sidekicks is Irvine’s line of four fresh-cut vegetable dishes that are available exclusively at Walmart. Pop into your store and pick up a bag of Garlic Balsamic Broccoli, Sesame Ginger Stir Fry, Braised Collard Greens, or Provencal Ratatouille. (Speaking of Sidekicks, do you remember the Sidekick, the precursor to today’s smart phones?)

A Step Forward for Food Safety

On Wednesday, we launched the Walmart Food Safety Collaboration Center in Beijing. The center is part of a $25 million investment over the next five years for food safety research in China. And that’s not the only news from China: Doug McMillon sat down with Bloomberg News to discuss a range of other things happening.

It’s an Honor Just to be Nominated

But it’s even better when you win 2016 Mango Retailer of the Year! We have so many people to thank: Our associates that put mangoes on our shelves, our customers that keep coming back to buy mangoes, the farmers that grow these delicious fruits … Oh no, they’re playing the “hurry up and finish” music, so go watch this video on how to slice the mango you just bought.

Now Playing on Your TV

Vudu Movies on Us lets you stream thousands of movies and TV shows for free with limited commercials. If you haven’t checked out the lineup, there’s some pretty good stuff: True Grit, School of Rock, Mad Max, and Point Break. Sounds like your weekend plans are set.

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Food for Thought: Focusing Minds by Fighting Hunger

Across America, kids are settling back into school routines. They are making new friends, trying new activities, and taking on new subjects to learn.

But there’s something else that happens this time of year: many children also return to depend on the availability of a healthy meal at a school breakfast, lunch or afterschool program. In the United States, hunger is a critical issue in the lives of far too many families. The USDA reports that in 2015, 42.2 million people in America, including more than 13 million children, lived in households that are at risk of struggling with hunger.

At the Walmart Foundation, we envision a world where families have access to healthy food – when and where they need it. Together with Walmart, we are supporting organizations that are fighting hunger in ways that create long-term positive change, like providing meal programs, offering nutrition education, and increasing access to fruits and vegetables. Two years ago, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation pledged to help provide 4 billion meals to people in need by 2020. Because of the great work being done by our grantees, we are already over halfway there – but we know that there is more work to do.

Today we are announcing $33 million in grants to nonprofit organizations working in local communities across the country. Each of these organizations is bringing their passion, creativity and unique talents to helping families access healthy food. Here are just a few examples:

The Chef Ann Foundation helps schools establish lunchroom learning programs that teach kids about different varieties of fresh produce and allow them to sample fruits and vegetables that they may not normally have access to. The fun and educational activities are encouraging even the pickiest of eaters to try – and enjoy – new, healthier foods, take their newfound tastes back to their families, and develop good eating habits in school and out.

The National Recreation and Parks Association offers meal programs and nutrition education across the country. This summer, one of those in the Baltimore area helped children at the Lincoln Park Community Center plant and maintain a vegetable garden for the summer. After growing squash, peppers, radishes and cabbage, many of the kids said they felt personally connected to their crops.

Another grantee, Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom, is helping kids start their day with solid nutrition. After implementing one program in Denver Public Schools where 10,484 additional students began receiving school breakfast every day, the initiative was deemed so successful that it served as a model for the entire state. Colorado enacted new “Breakfast after the Bell” legislation which requires schools to serve a free, nutritious breakfast to all students if 80% or more of the student body is eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.

Investing in these organizations is how we can help make a difference one community at a time. Each grant may be one step, but an important one. It will take more organizations, individuals, community leaders and companies working together to make the vision of a nation without hunger a reality.

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#FiveThingsFriday: Malibu Comes to Arkansas, and a Birth Story Worth Checking Out

ICYMI: Rum, a new baby, a lost locket and pumpkins a-plenty. Oh, and the largest single-day health event in America. It’s an odd list with one thing in common – it’s all news in the world of Walmart this week.

If You Like Pina Coladas…

Arkansas got a bit more tropical this week when Pernod Ricard began bottling Malibu Rum at its plant in Fort Smith. This reshoring effort will bring an additional 6,000 man hours to the plant over the next year, which translates into more hours for existing workers and additional seasonal and full-time employment. An estimated 150,000 cases will be bottled in the plant that also produces Kahlua Liqueur, Seagram's Gin and Smithworks Vodka. Cheers!

Price Check on Bouncing Baby Boy

On Sunday morning, our Payson, Utah, store inadvertently hosted a reenactment of the 2000 film “Where the Heart Is” when customer Cecelia Rivas went into labor when she was checking out. Customers and associates helped Cecelia deliver baby Matias right there at the cash register. Mom and baby are doing well, and the store will be welcoming them back for a proper baby shower soon.

More Wellness for Your Weekend

This Saturday, October 15, every Walmart store in the U.S. will be hosting Walmart Wellness Day, the largest single-day health fair in the country. From noon to 4 p.m., local time, you can get free blood glucose, blood pressure, vision screenings (where available), product samples and information on health insurance options. We’ll have lots of companies in store handing out free samples, from Dannon to Johnson & Johnson. And since no exciting Saturday is complete without a round of shots, we’re also offering low-cost immunizations.

Lost, But Found

Tampa associate Pamela Martini made it a personal mission to reunite a heart-shaped locket she found in her store with its rightful owner. Customers lose lots of items in our stores, but Pamela knew that this piece of jewelry was different; it had a man’s name and two dates engraved on it, and the inside contained ashes. She searched online, posted to Facebook, talked to customers, and even reached out to her local news station. Her determinedness paid off when she was able to reunite the locket with the woman who owned it.

It’s the Great Pumpkin … Farmer!

Sarah Frey has been supplying Walmart with pumpkins for about 20 years. She got her start with us when she was still a teenager helping out the family farm. Her business has grown from 80 acres to about 15,000, and she’s expanding beyond the bright orange gourds you pick up for Jack-O-Lanterns. Sarah is introducing Pumpkins of the World, exotic pumpkins aimed at cooks. We’re all familiar with the canned pumpkin used for Thanksgiving pie, but have you heard of Jarrahdales or Chioggias? No, we didn’t make those up, but they could be the next big food trend. Fun fact: Did you know that the pumpkins you carve up for Halloween are known as “jacks”? Store that one away for your next trivia night.

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5 Reasons to Check Out Scan & Go at Sam’s Club

Too busy to wait in line? Sam’s Club has the perfect solution and it’s called Scan & Go. This app turns your smartphone into a magic wand allowing you to save time by skipping the checkout lanes.

Available at all Sam’s Club locations nationwide, Scan & Go puts the checkout process in the hands of the user. Our team created the technology to address one of the most common pain points shoppers face – waiting to check out.

Here’s how it works: First, download the Scan & Go app on your iPhone or Android and head to your nearest Sam’s Club. Then, simply scan UPC codes on items as you shop, and pay for them directly from your smartphone anywhere in the club. Once you’re done shopping, just show your digital receipt to an associate on the way out.

Here are five reasons you’ll want to download the app before your next trip to Sam’s Club:

1. Save Time, Skip the Line: We all know time is valuable. By skipping the checkout line, you can spend those extra minutes on the people and things that matter most to you.

2. Track Spending: The Scan & Go app is a useful budgeting tool, allowing users to keep track of what they’re spending while they shop. No more surprises!

3. Cart Gaming: If you thought your kids loved playing games on your phone, wait until they see this! Parents are raving about how their kids love helping scan items.

4. Forgotten Hero: Have you ever left a store with a cart full of items, only to remember too late that one item you didn’t get? With Scan & Go, you can rush back inside the club, get it and go!

5. Silent Shopper: Let’s admit it, we’ve all had days when we’ve felt a little less than social. That’s OK, we understand. Similar to self checkout, Scan & Go offers do-it-yourself fans a chance to take charge of their shopping experience.

The app has received positive reviews from users so far. At last check, the app had a 4.5-star rating in the App Store and 4.0 rating in Google Play. Some users described the app as “better than sliced bread” and “Samtastic!” Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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