Walmart’s Progress on Making Food Healthier and Healthier Food More Affordable

Neighborhood Market 5693, Springfield, Mo.

By Leslie Dach

February 27, 2013

Neighborhood Market 5693, Springfield, Mo.

First Lady Michelle Obama visited a Walmart store in Springfield, Mo. to celebrate the retailer's progress in making food healthier, more affordable and available to consumers across the country.

Remarks as Prepared for Leslie Dach

Welcome, everyone.

I want to thank the First Lady for being with us here in Springfield today and for her passion and leadership in health and wellness.

At Walmart, we spend a lot of time talking to our customers, listening to their concerns and the challenges they face.

We know it’s a tough time for American families right now.

Factors like the payroll tax hike and unexpected increases in gas prices mean they’re stretching their hard-earned dollars even further.

They are trying to do more with less … making every dollar count from the gas station to the grocery store. 

Walmart’s healthier food work is an effort to make these times a little easier for those families.

When the First Lady launched this drive toward healthier living three years ago … a lot of people said it couldn’t be done.

They said that this nation’s attention could never be captured long enough to focus on the epidemics of obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

That didn’t stop her.

The First Lady set aside politics and partnered with the people who were ready to make a difference. We are honored that she made Walmart part of her team.

At Walmart, we believe that no family should have to choose between food that is good for them … and food they can afford.  And we believe every American should have easy access to fresh fruit and produce, no matter where they live.

Our customers they tell us they want to eat healthier. But they also said: Make healthier eating simple.

Offer great choices … but don’t expect us to have the time to research all the options.

And make it cheaper, because many of us don’t believe that we can afford to feed our families healthy food.

In the two years since our announcement with the First Lady, we’ve made great progress.

In fact, Walmart has surpassed our goal of reducing sugar by 10 percent by 2015.

We’re also well on our way to meeting our goal of reducing sodium by 25 percent by 2015.

Bread is a great example of our progress. In fact, it’s the number-one source of sodium in the American diet. And between 2008 and 2011, our work in reducing sodium across the commercial bread category has removed the equivalent of more than 110,000 pounds of salt from our shoppers’ diets.

We’ve unveiled the Great for You Icon as a simple tool to find healthier foods … now displayed prominently on thousands of foods like low-fat dairy, whole grains, lean meats, and fruits and vegetables.

We‘ve opened 86 stores in areas serving food deserts, including the one we’re in now.

We’ve saved our customers $2.3 billion in the last two years on fresh fruits and vegetables in Walmart produce sections across the country, just like the one we’re in today.

Of course, we know that it’s impossible to make a true impact if families don’t have the skills they need to make healthier choices.

That’s why we’ve proudly partnered with nonprofit organizations like Share Our Strength to improve nutrition education for underserved individuals.

We also recognize that improving nutrition and fighting hunger go hand in hand.  And we are proud to be the first company to have donated more than 1 billion meals to the Feeding America network of food banks, including our friends from the Ozarks Food Harvest who have joined us today.

You may have noticed their delivery truck parked outside — which helps ensure that people across this region have access to the food they need to live healthier lives.

This has been a journey for us and we know we have more to accomplish. 

The First Lady has been with us every step of the way.

She is transforming the American dinner table, and she is doing it by bringing EVERYONE together: business, civil society, government and nonprofits.

Now, to tell you just how her dinner table has changed, I’d like to introduce to you Stephanie Kennedy, a Springfield mom who joined the First Lady on a tour of our store today to see firsthand some of the progress we’re making. Welcome, Stephanie.