Walgreens Addresses Chicago Food Deserts

Walgreens unveiled its new expanded food selection in several Chicago communities identified as food deserts, or areas that lack access to basic foods necessary to maintain a healthy diet.

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens officially unveiled Wednesday its new expanded food selection in several Chicago communities identified as food deserts, or areas that lack access to basic foods necessary to maintain a healthy diet.

SN previously reported [2] on Walgreens' plans earlier this month.

For its newest effort, the drug retailer redesigned 10 of its stores on Chicago's south and west sides to include more than 750 new food items including fresh fruits and vegetables, frozen meats and fish, pasta, rice, beans, eggs, whole grain cereals and other healthy meal components.

"We [have] made a commitment to seek solutions for offering these communities more fresh and healthy food options," said Mark Wagner, Walgreens executive vice president of operations and community management, in a press statement.

In addition, Walgreens has joined forces with Northwestern Medicine and Near North Health Service Corp. to pilot a program designed to educate residents in food desert communities about the link between healthy food choices and preparation and better management of chronic illnesses like diabetes. Patients will receive discounts on featured items at several Walgreens locations where shelf tags are posted to help patients easily identify healthy food options.

Walgreens said it is reviewing opportunities to bring its expanded food selection to other food deserts across the country.

"We know this issue is not exclusive to Chicago," said Wagner.