First Lady Michelle Obama today toured a Walgreens store in Chicago on October 25 to see first-hand the company’s efforts to fight the childhood obesity epidemic and provide better food options and accessible health care to under-served communities. The event was part of a mayoral summit hosted by the First Lady’s Let’s Move! initiative and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Earlier this year the store, which is located on the south side of Chicago, expanded its food offering to include produce and other basic grocery staples. The store is one of a dozen Walgreens locations in Chicago neighborhoods identified as food deserts that act as food oasis stores. These stores increased their food selection by up to 60% by offering a larger assortment of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and other healthy meal components to help address the need for greater access to affordable, nutritious food.
The Let’s Move! Initiative has identified access to healthy, affordable food as a key pillar in the fight to end childhood obesity within a generation.
“We can talk all we want about making healthy choices about the food we serve our kids, but if parents don't have anywhere to buy those foods, then that's all it is—it just talk,” said Mrs. Obama in a statement
. “I am confident that one neighborhood, one community, one city at a time, we can ensure that all our kids have the happy, healthy futures they deserve.”
In July, Walgreens President and CEO Greg Wasson joined Obama at the White House to announce Walgreens commitment to convert or open at least 1000 food oasis stores across the country over the next five years, helping to serve approximately 9.5 million individuals in communities that currently lack access to healthy and affordable foods. “With more than 45% of our stores located in or around areas that don’t have access to fresh food, Walgreens is uniquely positioned to bring more food options to Americans and also provide needed pharmacy, health and wellness services directly in those communities,” said Wasson.
Studies have shown that limited access to healthy food choices can lead to poor diets, higher levels of obesity and other diet-related diseases. The White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity Report to the President identified access to healthy, affordable food as key to solving childhood obesity.
Walgreens also announced at the event an agreement with a local network of urban farmers located in Chicago to source fresh produce for Walgreens 12 food oasis stores in the city. Walgreens also will work with the network to create awareness about the use of local urban farmers through in-store advertising.
“We’re excited to work with this network to offer our customers high-quality produce from urban farmers in Chicago communities like Roseland and Washington Park,” said Wasson. “We are all working toward a common goal of getting fresh, affordable foods in the hands of people who need it most.”