Wal-Mart educated more than 1,000 of its shoppers in Maryland on how to buy nutritious food on a tight budget. The big supermarket chain has been offering interactive educational shopping tours to shoppers. The store tours teach the customers to compare unit prices, identify whole grains, read nutrition labels and buy fruits and vegetables.

The store tours are conducted by the stores associates under Share Our Strength, an anti-hunger non-profit outfit under their Cooking Matters and Shopping Matters program. Share Our Strength is based in Washington. The organization says that the Shopping Matters initiative is aimed at helping low-income families cook healthy meals without breaking the bank, that way they get the most out of every dollar spent at the grocery store.

Cooking classes were offered by chefs and students from the American Culinary Federation who showed shoppers how to make mango salsa while children played games with athletes from the University of Maryland.

After the store tours and the program, the shoppers have a chance to show what they learned by buying ingredients with which to feed a healthy meal to a family of four, for less than $10. The store tours started in Maryland this year and will continue. According to Share Our Strength, 54% of participants say they plan to compare unit prices to clinch the best deal after acquiring new price-comparison skills, 56% say they will look for whole grains on ingredient lists when next they go shopping in order to eat healthier.

Wal-Mart and Share Our Strength have been working together through the Wal-Mart foundation, which donated $4 million for the Shopping Matters tours. The tours equip low-income families with hands on cooking, shopping and nutrition instruction classes that run for six weeks with the name Cooking Matters.