About 500 new and existing locations will provide access to more than 700 USDA food deserts serving approximately 1.3 million people
WASHINGTON, D.C., July 20, 2011 – Walmart announced today that it will open between 275-300 stores serving the Department of Agriculture (USDA) designated food desert areas between now and 2016. These estimates are based on the company’s current real estate plans. These stores, in both urban and rural areas, will provide access to groceries for more than 800,000 people living in food deserts. Walmart made the announcement at the White House today with First Lady Michelle Obama.
Since 2007, the company has opened 218 stores serving food deserts. The projected new and existing locations, totaling about 500 stores, will provide access to fresh and healthy food in more than 700 food deserts and will serve approximately 1.3 million people living in these areas. To be included in this figure, a person must both live in a USDA designated food desert area and be within one mile of an urban Walmart or within ten miles of a rural Walmart store.
“By opening stores where customers need them most, Walmart will help build healthier families and stronger communities. We believe every single person should have access to an abundant selection of fresh fruits and vegetables at an affordable price,” said Leslie Dach, executive vice president of corporate affairs at Walmart.
Many areas classified as food deserts are also job deserts. More than 40,000 associates will work in these stores once they are open. These full- and part-time jobs will provide competitive wages and the opportunity to build a career with the company.
Today’s announcement continues to fulfill one of the key commitments the company made alongside the First Lady in January 2011 as part of Walmart’s healthier food initiative. The other key components of this initiative include:
- Reformulating packaged food items by working with suppliers to reduce sodium and added sugars and removing all remaining industrially produced trans fats;
- Making healthier food more affordable;
- Developing a simple front-of-package seal for identifying healthier food choices, and
- Increasing charitable support for nutrition programs.
“First Lady Michelle Obama is helping millions of Americans lead healthier lives, and Walmart is proud to partner with her in this work. The First Lady’s leadership on products, prices and access to healthier food has helped sharpen our focus on bringing affordable groceries to underserved urban and rural areas,” Dach added.
Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are also making a difference in the fight to end hunger by donating $2 billion in cash and in-kind donations through 2015.
The stores announced today have already undergone Walmart’s rigorous process for new store development and include store openings and expansions. The final number of stores will depend on local market conditions. Additionally, today’s announcement does not include stores yet to be considered through the company’s real estate process or stores to be built in Walmart’s new small format, Walmart Express. Walmart Express stores are designed to serve urban and rural areas and will likely address food deserts, but their locations are still in the evaluation process.
For this announcement, Walmart used the USDA Food Desert Locator to determine the number of stores that currently serve or will serve food desert areas.
“These stores are just one part of our robust Walmart U.S. growth strategy. We continue to see opportunities to offer customers the products they need at prices they can afford in urban and rural markets across the country,” Dach said.
The company will announce its overall capital strategy for growth at its conference for the investment community on October 12.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT) serves customers and members more than 200 million times per week at over 9,000 retail units under 69 different banners in 28 countries. With fiscal year 2011 sales of $419 billion, Walmart employs more than two million associates worldwide. Walmart continues to be a leader in sustainability, corporate philanthropy and employment opportunity. Additional information about Walmart can be found by visiting http://www.walmartstores.com and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/walmart. Online merchandise sales are available at http://www.walmart.com and http://www.samsclub.com.
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