While many Americans want to eat healthy, some just can’t afford to, as smarter food options tend to be pricier than their unhealthy counterparts. But Wal-Mart stores recently announced a new initiative aimed at ending this for consumers and providing them with healthier foods at more affordable costs.

Wal-Mart’s “Making Foods Healthier and Healthier Foods More Affordable” Nutrition Charter was unveiled in Washington D.C. on Jan. 20. First Lady Michelle Obama joined the company’s executives in endorsing the initiative as part of her “Let’s Move!” campaign.

“I believe this Charter is a victory for parents…it’s a victory for families…and most of all, it’s a victory for our children,” Michelle Obama said at the event, according to remarks released by The White House. “Efforts like this show us that yes, we can improve how we make and sell food in this country–and what we feed our kids. Yes, we can give parents better information so they can make better decisions for their families.”

The effort is comprised of five key elements which include plans to reformulate packaged foods with healthier ingredients by 2014, cut down on costs of healthy, fresh foods, increase charitable support for nutrition programs and redesign packaging so customers are aware of truly healthier food options.

Wal-Mart also plans to address inner city food “deserts,” areas lacking sources of healthy, fresh foods. These regions can be found in many communities in major cities across the U.S.

According to the Baltimore City Food Policy Task Force, a survey found that food insecurity affects nearly 14 percent of low-income families in Baltimore. Also, more than two-thirds of adults and nearly 40 percent of high school students surveyed were overweight or obese in 2007.

In Washington D.C., Wards 7 and 8, which have the District’s highest poverty rate, also have the city’s highest obesity rates and surrounded by food deserts, according to data found by the nonprofit organization DC Hunger. Out of the District’s 43 full grocery stores, just two are located in Ward 4, four in Ward 7 and three in Ward 8. On the other hand, Ward 3, the city’s most affluent district, has 11 full grocery stores.

Wal-Mart leaders announced that they will address this issue by building stores in underserved communities nationwide.

“No family should have to choose between food that is healthier for them and food they can afford,” Bill Simon, president and CEO of Wal-Mart U.S. said in a statement. “With more than 140 million customer visits each week, Wal-Mart is uniquely positioned to make a difference by making food healthier for and more affordable to everyone. We are committed to working with suppliers, government and non-governmental organizations to provide solutions that help Americans eat healthier and live a better life.”

For more information, visit: www.walmart stores.com/healthierfoods.