Walgreens to Serve as Food Desert Oasis

More than 600,000 Chicago residents don't have easy access to fresh, healthy food, CDC says

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    NEW YORK - JANUARY 13: A grocer arranges mangoes in the produce section at Whole Foods January 13, 2005 in New York City. New eating guidelines issued by the U.S. government stress the need to eat more vegetables, fruits and whole grains and to excercise between 30-90 minutes a day to promote good health. (Photo by Stephen Chernin/Getty Images)

    An expanded food selection in several Walgreens stores is the latest move by Chicago to eradicate so-called "food deserts" in the city: those areas where fresh and healthy food is hard to find.

    The Deerfield-based retailer on Wednesday unveiled six locations where customers can find nearly 750 new food items including fresh fruits and vegetables, frozen meats and fish, pasta, rice, beans, eggs and whole grain cereals.  Four other stores will have the food items by the end of the month.

    "This is a great step forward in addressing the challenge of neighborhoods that have limited availability of healthy foods, and I want to thank Walgreens for its commitment to making Chicago a better place and helping Chicagoans live healthier lives," Chicago Mayor Richard Daley said in a written statement.

    Speaking outside a Grand Crossing store he toured Wednesday, the mayor said he met with company officials last year and urged them to sell healthy food at stores in neighborhoods that lack enough grocery stores, the Chicago Tribune reported.

    "To me, this is an example of people working together on behalf of the entire community," he said.

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    The expanded food selection is now available at the following Walgreens locations:

    • 2340 W. Madison St. (Madison St. & Western Ave.)
    • 10300 S. Michigan Ave. (Michigan Ave. & 103rd St.)
    • 1533 E. 67th Place (67th Place & Stony Island)
    • 1213 W. 79th St. (79th St. & Racine Ave.)
    • 5036 S. Cottage Grove Ave. (Cottage Grove Ave. & 51st St.)
    • 8636 S. Ashland Ave. (Ashland Ave. & 87th St.)

    Four additional locations will be completed by the end of the month, including:

    • 650 W. 63rd St. (63rd St. & Halsted Parkway)
    • 2015 E. 79th St. (79th St. & Jeffery Blvd.)
    • 11040 S. Michigan Ave. (Michigan Ave. & 111th St.)
    • 5222 W. Madison St. (Madison St. & Laramie Ave.)

    More than 600,000 Chicago residents live in neighborhoods that are either lacking or too far away from conventional grocery stores, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.