Walmart is strengthening its commitment to increasing access to and confidence in eating healthier foods for consumers throughout the U.S. The retailer and the Walmart Foundation are actively using business initiatives and philanthropic giving to tackle health disparities in Black and African American communities, and the Walmart.org Center for Racial Equality recently donated $9.5 million in grants to support community-led food solutions related to health systems and driving economic development.
“In more than 15 years of working in food and nutrition across many communities, I have seen such disparities firsthand, where too often predominately Black and Brown communities experienced both chronic health problems and the highest rates of food insecurity,” wrote Eileen Hyde, senior director, community resilience for Walmart.org, in a company blog post.
According to Hyde, these disparities only worsened amid the pandemic and a majority of impacted communities lack investment in overall food systems. Provided through Walmart and the Walmart Foundation, grants from the Walmart.org Center for Racial Equality will help give local entrepreneurs and organizations the funding they need to find solutions for healthy food and also drive economic development.
Grants representing the intersection of health systems and community-led food solutions have been awarded to the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center’s Be Well Communities initiative and the American Heart Association’s Bernard J. Tyson Impact Fund. The former is working on strategies to prevent cancer in predominantly Black and Hispanic communities, while the latter supports community-based food entrepreneurs and organizations in Atlanta and Chicago.
Among the community-led food solutions that drive economic development receiving grants is the Equitable Food Oriented Development Collaborative and Fund, whose food and agriculture projects aim to create community-owned business opportunities and healthy food systems. The Local Initiatives Support Corp. also received a grant, and supports organizations that build and strengthen access to healthy food in communities with low food access. The Reinvestment Fund is the final grantee, and it focuses on the current state of food system funding throughout Alabama, Georgia and Mississippi.
“These grants aim to shift resources toward local organizations that can serve as models of community innovation and empowerment through food,” wrote Hyde. “We hope they not only help improve food systems, but also inspire others to support the entrepreneurs and organizations best placed to provide local solutions that strengthen food access and ultimately the health of their neighbors.”
Each week, approximately 230 million customers and members visit Walmart’s more than 10,500 stores and numerous e-commerce websites under 46 banners in 24 countries. The company employs approximately 2.3 million associates worldwide. Walmart U.S. is No. 1 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.