Talk about an uphill battle. Walmart is trying to educate shoppers about eating healthy on a limited budget and the importance of understanding unit prices when evaluating purchase decisions.
To do so, more than 1,000 shoppers at Walmart locations across the state of Maryland recently learned new skills for buying healthy food on a limited budget by participating in a series of educational tours held in the stores. The Shopping Matters tours, developed by the anti-hunger nonprofit Share Our Strength organization were led by Walmart employees who taught shoppers to compare unit prices, read food labels, identify whole grains and buy fruits and vegetables on a limited budget. After the tour, participants applied the skills they learned to buy ingredients that would make a healthy meal for a family of four, for under $10.
"We recently released a study that showed 85% of low-income families want to make healthy meals, but only about half are able to do so on a regular basis," said 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."
After completing a Shopping Matters tour, 54% of participants say they intend to compare unit prices to get the best deal and 56% say they will seek out whole grains on ingredient lists.
The Shopping Matters tours were developed by Share Our Strength, an organization the Walmart Foundation gave $4 million to earlier this year. Walmart’s funding provided for expansion of the Shopping Matters program which in turn is an outgrowth of Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters program which is sponsored nationally by Walmart and ConAgra Foods. The Shopping Matters and Cooking Matters initiatives are both part of Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign. In addition, the Shopping Matters tours in Maryland were offered as part of the state’s Partnership to End Childhood Hunger.
The tours are designed to reach low-income families with hands-on cooking, shopping and nutrition education in six-week Cooking Matters courses.
In addition to the Shopping Matters tours, two Walmart stores held activities focused on healthy living for the nearby community. In the Bowie and Baltimore (Port Covington) locations, chefs and students from the American Culinary Federation demonstrated how to make Mango Salsa and taught shoppers about knife skills and safety. Local 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.
According to Share Our Strength, its No Kid Hungry campaign is ending childhood hunger in America by connecting kids in need with nutritious food and teaching families how to cook healthy, affordable meals.