We all know how important it is to eat healthy, but due to cost many of us forgo eating our fruits and veggies for stuff that we’d rather not put into our bodies. Walmart has teamed up with First Lady Michelle Obama to make food healthier and more affordable. Walmart’s Senior Vice President of Sustainability for Walmart Stores, Inc. joined me to dish on how they’re making healthier food more affordable and accessible, and their new partnership with Michelle Obama.
Candace Rose: What are some of the challenges people face when eating healthy foods?
Andrea Thomas: “Sometimes it’s hard to recognize a healthier choice when you’re shopping because there are just so many choices around you. So one thing that we’ve been doing, we’ve been working hard over the last two years is to make healthier food affordable and accessible and easier to recognize for our customers. One of the things that we’ve done in the produce department, we made a commitment to save our customers one billion dollars per year when they buy fresh fruits and vegetables at Walmart vs. anywhere else, and so far in the last two years that savings has actually equaled to 2.3 billion dollars, so we’re a little bit ahead of our plan on that one.
We’ve also created an icon or a seal- the Great For You Seal that our customers can see on products on the great value or market sign products our private brands, so they can see what the healthier choices are. And then we’ve been working with our suppliers to reformulate and take out some of the sodium and added sugar from the products that people are already buying. So there’s lots of ways now that you can make little changes in your diet to eat healthier.”
Candace Rose: How is the first lady involved in the eat healthy movement?
Andrea Thomas: “Well, she was with us when we very first made the announcement two years ago and talked about these commitments, and I had the opportunity this week to take her through one of our neighborhood market stores in Springfield, Missouri and show her our progress and we walked around the store with some of our customers, and they were talking about the things that they’re doing to help their families eat healthier. We had a really nice visit, she’s doing a lot of really amazing things around fitness and exercise and healthier choices, and school lunch programs and things like that. It’s a natural partnership, she’s been very supportive, and it was really exciting to take her through our stores and show her our progress.”
Candace Rose: How are Michelle Obama and Walmart helping to improve access to healthy foods?
Andrea Thomas: “One of the things you can do is you can go to WalmartGreatForYou.com and see the criteria we use to determine if something’s healthy or to see recipes. One of the ways to eat healthier is to do a little bit more cooking at home because you can control a little bit of the sugar and the sodium and the fats. We’ve got some really easy recipes that are a dollar per serving, so very affordable on a budget. And you can also just come into our stores. We’ve got signage in our produce department that gives you tips on how to pick fresh and ripe fruits and vegetables, how to cook them, what the nutrition looks like and so there’s lots of things that you can do to make simple changes to eat healthier.”
Candace Rose: Do you have any additional tips or information you’d like to share?
Andrea Thomas: “Looking at WalmartGreatForYou.com is a great way to go and get some ideas. In a lot of cases we’ve taken some sugar and some sodium out of products that you’re already buying, so reading the labels and starting to understand a little bit more about what you’re eating, and just trying new things. I think that’s a really great tip is just to start bringing new things into your diet as well.”