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large-scale retailers up the health ante

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Two big-name food retailers seem to be paying attention to First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign, part of which calls for corporate America to be more responsible about the types of foods they buy and sell to their millions of customers.

In January, Whole Foods Market® announced that its more than 300 stores would begin featuring its new “Health Starts Here” program, offering products, education, practical tools and wellness resources to promote healthy lifestyles.

Health Starts Here is an approach to healthy eating, rooted in four principles:

  • Whole Food. Choose whole, fresh, natural and organic foods that are not refined or highly processed.

  • Plant-Strong™. Reconfigure your plate and incorporate more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds, beans and legumes into every meal.

  • Nutrient Dense. Make every bite count with foods that contain the most nutrients per calorie.

  • Healthy Fat. Get healthy fats from whole plant foods like nuts, avocados and seeds.

Additionally, Whole Foods recently awarded grants for more than 500 free salad bars through the Salad Bar Project, a campaign created to empower schools to increase their students’ lunchtime consumption of fruits and vegetables.

Surpassing the goal of $750,000, Whole Foods Market shoppers donated more than $1.4 million to the Salad Bar Project during the grocer’s 4-week in-store and online fundraising campaign last September. The company partnered with Chef Ann Cooper’s nonprofit, F3: Food Family Farming Foundation, to administer the grant application process. The foundation received over 700 applications. It has scheduled shipment of 460 salad bars to date and is finalizing the review of 90 additional qualifying schools. Visit www.saladbars2schools.org for a current list of schools that have received salad bars.

To make an even larger impact in lunchrooms across the country, Whole Foods Market announced it is a founding partner of Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools, whose goal is to provide 6,000 salad bars across the nation by 2013.

Walmart® has also committed to offering healthier and more affordable food choices for customers. In late January the First Lady joined Walmart officials in Washington, DC, as they outlined the program’s five key elements:

  • Reformulate thousands of everyday packaged food items by 2015 by reducing sodium 25% and added sugars 10% and by removing all remaining industrially produced trans fats. The company will work with suppliers to improve the nutritional quality of national food brands and its Great Value private brand in key product categories to complete the reformulations.
  • Make healthier choices more affordable, saving customers approximately $1 billion per year on fresh fruits and vegetables through a variety of sourcing, pricing, and transportation and logistics initiatives that will drive unnecessary costs out of the supply chain. Walmart will also dramatically reduce or eliminate the price premium on key “better-for-you” items, such as reduced-sodium, -sugar or -fat products.
  • Develop strong criteria for a simple front-of-package seal that will help consumers instantly identify truly healthier food options, such as whole-grain cereal, whole-wheat pasta or unsweetened canned fruit.
  • Provide solutions to address food deserts by building stores in underserved communities that are in need of fresh and affordable groceries.
  • Increase charitable support for nutrition programs that educate consumers about healthier food solutions and choices.
  • “No family should have to choose between food that is healthier for them and food they can afford,” said Bill Simon, president and CEO of Walmart U.S., in a press release. “We are committed to working with suppliers, government and non-governmental organizations to provide solutions that help Americans eat healthier and live a better life.” This program builds on the success of the First Lady’s Let’s Move campaign to make healthy choices more convenient and affordable for families.
Sandy Todd Webster

Sandy Todd Webster is the editor in chief of IDEA’s award-winning publications. She is Precision Nutrition Level 1 certified and is a Rouxbe Certified Plant-Based Professional cook.

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