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Walmart requiring lettuce suppliers to join blockchain

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

A discount giant is requiring lettuce suppliers to join its blockchain-enabled food safety and traceability initiative.

On Monday, Walmart sent a letter to “leafy green” suppliers mandating that companies can trace their products back to farms, by production lot, in seconds. This will require suppliers to capture digital, end-to-end traceability event information using blockchain technology.

The program, called the “Walmart Food Traceability Initiative,” requires suppliers to use the IBM Food Trust network, which is based on blockchain technology. Suppliers that provides leafy green vegetables directly to Walmart stores to the grocery chains need to upload traceability data to the blockchain network by Jan. 31, 2019. Third-party companies working with suppliers are expected to enable end-to-end traceability back to farm by Sept. 30, 2019, according to the letter.

“We have worked closely with IBM and other food companies to create a user-friendly, low-cost, blockchain-enabled traceability solution that meets our requirements and creates shared value for the entire leafy green farm to table continuum,” the letter reported.

The program is designed to confirm food safety, as well as to quickly and accurately respond to food safety issues, such as e.Coli and salmonella contamination. It will also replace traditional paper-based methods that many farms, packing houses and warehouses use to capture information between multiple sources. This previous, cumbersome process could take up to seven days or users to track down where a product came from, obtain the paper-based data, and then contact the supplier and company that imported or shipped the product to Walmart’s distribution center.

“The food system is absolutely too large for any single entity to [track]. It was difficult for consumers to know how to determine where their lettuce was grown,” explained Frank Yiannas, VP of food safety at Walmart.

Now farmers use a handheld system to capture product information that is digitized, and add it to the blockchain network. The product’s information is also captured at the supplier’s packing house.

“In the future, using the technology we’re requiring, a customer could potentially scan a bag of salad and know with certainty where it came from,” he added.

(To hear Yiannis discuss the Walmart Food Traceability Initiative, click here.)

This is not Walmart’s first try at blockchain. The company began testing this strategy with IBM in August 2017. The partners used the test to create “a safety system where supplier partners could collaborate, and capture information of product, including where its been, then link it with other data points, including the Internet of Things, to create a safer, more sustainable food system,” Yiannas said in a company video on Youtube.

In addition, on May 17, the discounter filed a patent for a blockchain-based user interface that enables customers to resell merchandise at a new price. This blockchain ledger would track the items that customers purchase from specific Walmart stores and the customer who buys it. The register will enable customers to register the purchased item, as well as choose a price for a resale, acting as a digital marketplace.

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CVS Health increases investment in Ohio communities

BY Sandra Levy

CVS Health announced a series of community investments to improve the health and wellness of local communities in Ohio. More than $150,000 in new grants will help support Ohio nonprofits helping to mitigate prescription drug abuse and expand access to quality, convenient and affordable care across the state.

“We are committed to making meaningful investments in the communities we serve to support our colleagues and customers,” CVS Health senior vice president of corporate social responsibility and philanthropy Eileen Howard Boone said, in a statement. “The organizations we are partnering with are helping us deliver on our purpose of helping people on their path to better health and are truly dedicated to helping those who need it the most.”

The new grants include the following:

Neighborhood Family Practice in Cleveland has received a $50,000 grant to support the training and implementation of motivational interviewing for primary care providers, nurses and behavioral health clinicians to use as a coaching method for patients dealing with substance abuse. The new support will be used to conduct motivational interviewing training and to ensure appropriate use of this method across the health center.

A $50,000 grant will be used by Rocking Horse Children’s Health Center in Springfield to develop the SAFE (Substance Abuse and Family Education) program, which will identify and provide support and psych education to individuals, children and families at the community health center and the surrounding areas who are impacted by the opioid crisis and other drug related issues.

CVS Health will be providing a total of $50,000 to four clinics that are part of the National Association of Free & Charitable Clinics to support the clinics’ ability to have medication available to their patients in medically underserved areas of the community. The clinics are Viola Startzman Clinic in Wooster, Open M Medical Clinic in Akron, St. Vincent de Paul Charitable Pharmacy in Cincinnati and Beacon Charitable Pharmacy in Canton.

“This effort, along with others, is a priority locally and in the state legislature,” State Senator Bob Hackett said, in a statement. “We must continue to work hard to combat the opioid crisis facing our state and provide resources in our communities that will help people on the road to recovery get their lives back.”

In addition, CVS Health is supporting the Well Being Collaborative of Northeast Ohio’s annual Wellness Conference, where CVS pharmacists will talk about the importance of safe medication disposal and the dangers of prescription drug abuse. Participation in the conference is part of CVS Health’s Pharmacist Teach program, which brings pharmacists to local schools and community events to help educate teens and parents on the growing epidemic. More than 300,000 teens nationally including nearly 14,000 in Ohio have already participated in the program.

Through its employee volunteer program, CVS Health colleagues logged more than 3,000 volunteer hours last year in Ohio in support of local community causes throughout the state. Additionally, over the past three years, CVS Health has contributed more than $600,000 to local community organizations in Ohio through the CVS Health Foundation, corporate grants, sponsorships and product donations, lending its support to programs that improve access to health care; provide chronic disease management; promote smoking cessation and youth tobacco prevention; and help combat prescription drug abuse.

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Walmart expands grocery delivery to additional metro areas

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

A discount giant is making good on its promise to get online grocery orders into more shoppers’ hands faster.

On Monday, Walmart announced that it now offers grocery delivery in 50 metro areas across the United States. By launching grocery delivery earlier this month in Akron, Ohio, the company is halfway to its goal of offering the service to 100 metro areas, which equates to 40% of U.S. households.

Walmart added that “more locations on the way,” according to a blog on the company’s website.

Walmart uses many partners to get these deliveries into shoppers’ hands. Earlier this month, the company began testing a crowd-sourced delivery platform service, called Spark Delivery.  In April, the discounter teamed up with on-demand delivery service Postmates to streamline its grocery deliveries. Uber and Deliv have also been helping Walmart test deliveries in select markets, including Dallas, Denver, Orlando, Phoenix, Tampa and San Jose.

In addition to its delivery milestone, on Sept. 20, Walmart began receiving orders at its newest Grocery Pickup location in Fayetteville, Arkansas. With this new location, the company now features more than 2,000 pickup locations across the U.S. where customers can place an order online and pick up their groceries curbside.

By the end of this fiscal year, Walmart expects to have 2,140 access points in 430 markets, covering 69% of all households in the U.S., according to the company.

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