Some of the largest U.S. grocers announced that they would join forces with First Lady Michelle Obama to bring healthy food to parts of the country, urban and rural, where access to fresh groceries is poor.
Walmart, the largest food retailer in the United States, took part in an announcement with the first lady at the White House on Wednesday afternoon. Supervalu and Walgreens are also participating.
All three chains announced plans to open stores in so-called “food desert” parts of the country, where people lack access to grocery stores and their fresh produce and meats. According to data provided by Supervalu, there are more than 23 million people, including more than 6 million children, live in U.S. food deserts…
Such efforts could help Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, to win favor with city councils and other leaders who object to its efforts to open stores in New York City and other parts of the country…
“The first lady’s efforts in these areas have helped focus our real estate process, to take a particular look at these areas as we build out our real estate plans,” said Leslie Dach, executive vice president of corporate affairs at Walmart.
Supervalu already operates about 400 stores in areas some may consider food deserts, including five recently opened units on the Chicago’s South Side, Chief Executive Craig Herkert told Reuters.
“What’s new for us is committing very publicly with the Partnership for a Healthier America and the first lady to 250″ new stores in food deserts, he said.
Walgreen Co, the nation’s largest drugstore chain, committed to convert or open at least 1,000 “food oasis” stores over the next five years stocked with fruits, vegetables and other healthy fare.
More than 45 percent of Walgreen’s existing stores are in areas that do not have easy access to fresh food, CEO Greg Wasson said in a statement.
Every little bit helps.
Convincing urban poor folks that better food, better nutrition is a benefit will be as big a problem as access to healthier food in the first place. Not just my humble opinion – but, my experience dealing with 2nd or 3rd generation urban poor. That’s a very different culture from poor rural folks moving into cities.