Health & Wellness

How We’re Fighting Food Deserts

You may have heard the term “food desert” before, but what does it really mean? Well, it’s sort of what it sounds like — an area, in urban or rural settings where access to affordable and nutritious food is limited. Instead of grocery stores with fresh fruit and vegetables, the landscape is often limited to convenience stores and fast food restaurants.  

People who live in areas without access to affordable, healthy food often suffer from a number of nutrition related health problems including obesity, hypertension, heart disease and diabetes. So it’s no surprise that helping close the access gap has been a big part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move!  program designed to help fight childhood obesity and help Americans get healthy.

As the country’s largest retailer of groceries, Walmart has a role to play in helping improve access to affordable healthy food. In July 2012, we joined the First Lady and the Let’s Move! initiative by committing to open 275 to 300 new stores in areas that serve food deserts by 2016. When the U.S. Census showed an increase in areas that fall into the food desert category, we opened 224 stores across the country in areas that serve those food deserts, including states where it’s a big problem like my home state of Texas (27 stores), California (18 stores), and Colorado (12 stores). Of those, 48 were opened in fiscal year 2012, 80 in fiscal year 2013, and 96 in fiscal year 2014.

This is a commitment we take very seriously at Walmart. From the beginning we’ve always said that a customer shouldn’t have to choose between a food that is healthier for them and a food they can afford.  Families should have reasonable access to a store that provides healthy choices and helps that family live better.  I’m proud to say that we are doing our small part to bring better options to families to urban and rural areas across the country.  

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Innovation

Why Pickup is a Time-Saving Treat This Halloween

As a dad of three, I love planning for Halloween. My family and I start in September thinking about the perfect costumes for a fun season of parties and trick-or-treating. This year, my 3-year-old, 5-year-old and 7-year-old are obsessed with Star Wars, and we will be trick-or-treating as their favorite characters. My 3-year-old is particularly excited to be Darth Vader (or as he says, "Darth Tater" – how cute is that?).

If you’re a parent, you know that finding the perfect costume isn’t always easy, especially if your children – like most kids – like to change their minds a few times along the way. (Of course, that never happens in our family. Right, kids?) And once your costumes are set, the last thing you want is to find the store doesn’t carry the right size.

This year, Walmart is sparing customers from that hassle through a simple solution: making the majority of our in-store costumes available through same-day Pickup. Think of it like a reservation system. Simply purchase the item online and then pick it up in the store the very same day. As long as your child’s friend doesn’t snag the last one of your favorites, there are no unpleasant surprises, and no scouring the aisles for that perfect wig or mask. (One heads up: We expect superheroes to be one of the most sought-after costumes this year.)

We know that the way customers shop has changed – they expect a connected experience and depend on us to deliver it. With thousands of physical locations, plus online shopping and convenient services like Pickup, Walmart is uniquely positioned to serve customers anytime, anywhere for all their Halloween needs however they wish to shop.

For the past few years, I have been on the team that has been working to develop our Pickup program, so I'm especially excited about this. I recently took my family to our local store to test it out. We bypassed the aisles, went straight to the Pickup counter and, within minutes, my kids had their costume selections in hand.

Whether your family chooses to dress up as Star Wars characters or superheroes this Halloween, I hope you save time shopping so you can enjoy the fun stuff: parties, costume contests and trick-or-treating. Happy Halloween, everyone!

Editor's Note: Walmart has this Halloween's popular costumes and candy exclusives. For more information on this year's top items, click here.

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Health & Wellness

Walmart Associate Conquers North Pole Marathon

Some people will go a long way to support charity. For Dorn Wenninger, vice president of global food sourcing for Walmart U.S., not even the North Pole is too far.

Dorn was one of 56 runners from 21 countries who participated in the 14th annual North Pole Marathon on April 9. Dubbed the “World’s Coolest Marathon,” the 26.2-mile race not only challenges endurance athletes with its snow-covered, icy terrain and bone-chilling weather, it also supports a variety of worthy causes with hundreds of thousands of dollars raised each year.

Crossing the finish line after five hours and 17 minutes, Dorn captured first place and secured his spot in an exclusive group of 428 people worldwide who have completed the marathon since 2002.

This year’s competitors ran to raise money for a variety of causes worldwide. Dorn, who has been with Walmart almost six years, serves on the boards of two nonprofit organizations: Cobblestone Farm in Northwest Arkansas and Amigos de las Americas. He will continue to raise money for Cobblestone Farm, which produces organic produce that is then donated to local food banks.

“I’m passionate about healthy eating, farming and produce,” he said.

His passion also extends to running. In January, he participated in a marathon in Trinidad and Tobago, where the temperature was 130 degrees warmer than the lowest temperature he experienced while at the North Pole.

Knowing that running on snow and ice would be different, he trained for the North Pole event on dirt and gravel trails. But the terrain wasn’t his only concern. With temperatures between -25 and -43 degrees Fahrenheit, his respiration froze and built up on his face mask. He used three different masks throughout the five-hour run and ended up with early signs of frost bite on his nose.

His North Pole adventure was supposed to last one and half days, but a crack in the runway prevented Dorn from flying out for three days. Despite the delay, he said the trip was an amazing experience.

Running is a great way to deal with stress, he said – even on 6 feet of ice floating on 14,000 feet of Arctic Ocean. It also can have a positive impact on other areas of life, from personal to business.

“Achieving the seemingly impossible helps demonstrate that almost anything is possible, even when others don’t believe it is,” he said. “Determination, focus and persistence go a long way in achieving goals.”

Dorn never imagined he’d win the North Pole race, but with that victory in hand, he now has his eye on a few other challenges just as difficult – or more so.

“It's incredible what people are capable of when they put their mind to it,” he said. “The thought of running a marathon at the North Pole sounds so extreme that it's virtually unbelievable. I welcomed the challenge of proving, to myself, that it is possible.”

Photos courtesy of North Pole Marathon.

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Life

#FiveThingsFriday: Jet.com, a Special Surprise and Appreciating Associates

ICYMI this week: Walmart acquired Jet.com and expanded the way we serve our customers, Miss America Savvy Shields returned to her home state of Arkansas to support Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, and we’ve got Halloween decorations to make your house the spookiest on the block.

Walmart Acquires Jet.com

At the beginning of the week, we were excited to officially welcome a new company to the Walmart family. But why Jet.com? Our CEO Doug McMillon said it best: “Walmart and Jet.com obsess about saving customers time and money. By joining forces, we’ll be better at doing both, creating seamless shopping from app to site to store.”

A Special Request Inspires Custom Delivery

For the past three months, Danny Nolin’s Ocean Pacific striped T-shirt is the only one he’s wanted to wear. After being washed and worn dozens of times, the shirt finally ripped, and his family searched high and low for a replacement, only to find that it was no longer available in stores. After one of his relatives reached out to Walmart on social media, we were able to team with our supplier, dig through the archives and make 10 new shirts just for Danny.

Way to Go! Associates Earn Cash Bonuses

Our people work hard to serve our customers. So much so that 99% (!) of our stores met goals for cleanliness, faster checkout and better service in the second quarter. We were excited to recognize our associates’ hard work by recently paying out more than $200 million in quarterly bonuses to about 932,000 hourly associates.

Miss America Savvy Shields Visits Walmart

The newly crowned Miss America, Savvy Shields, made an appearance in Bentonville, Arkansas, this week to support a cause near and dear to her heart, bringing awareness to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. She toured a Walmart store and interacted with associates and customers all to raise awareness for the cause.

Have No Fear: Cool Halloween Décor is Here (All Under $18!)

You can always count on Walmart for some scary good deals. Check out some of the items we have this Halloween season to make your house one of the scariest on the block!

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Opportunity

This Mall in Indiana is Helping Retail Workers Succeed

No matter the job, real-world experience is the most valuable foundation for starting a career or advancing an existing one.

Training is a close second. But sometimes it’s unclear how both of these can move you forward, especially in the retail industry.

In Northwest Indiana, a new retail training lab is working to provide the answers.

Positioned in a local retail hub -- the Southlake Mall in Merrillville, Indiana – the retail training lab is a place where retail job seekers can take classes that cover the interpersonal and technical skills that are necessary to create an overall outstanding customer experience. Not only can workers gain this new knowledge, but they can also earn an official credential: Graduates can receive certifications in customer service and sales, loss prevention, retail management, and/or inventory management, all of which are recognized by the National Retail Federation and the Retail Loss Prevention Foundation.

While it may seem unusual to establish a training center in the middle of a shopping environment – for these students, it just made sense. Not only do participants have close access to technical instruction, but they can step out of the retail training lab and experience customer service and retail management in action, just by walking into one of the many stores in the mall.

A few weeks ago, the first round of graduates completed the NRF customer service and sales certification. I was taken aback by how passionate they were about everything they had learned, and as a previous store owner for 23 years, I knew that they were equipped with everything they would need to be successful in either starting or advancing in their careers. Not only were they armed with certified skills, but they were coming away with a renewed sense of confidence.

This lab, an initiative of the Northwest Indiana Workforce Board, was made possible through a grant from the Walmart Foundation to the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership, which has enabled us to offer classes at no cost. That strengthens employment opportunities for everyone who walks out of our doors. We’re excited to provide such one-of-a-kind service for jobseekers and employers in retail.

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