Walgreens continues fight against food deserts in Chicago

CHICAGO Responding to the Windy City's food desert issue, Walgreens has unveiled expanded food selections at 10 of its stores in the Chicago area.

Customers will now find 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 in select stores, Walgreens said. The drug store chain has worked with Chicago Mayor Richard Daley since last year to improve the community's access to healthy-food options. On Wednesday, the chain held an event at the 67th and Stony Island store, one of the locations where the expanded food selection was rolled out. The expanded food selection now is 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.)

“We immediately made a commitment to seek solutions for offering these communities more fresh and healthy food options,” said Mark Wagner, Walgreens EVP operations and community management. “Walgreens has taken great pride in meeting the needs of Chicago communities since opening our first store on the city’s South Side 109 years ago. Today, we couldn’t be more pleased to provide additional basic staples that will inevitably help improve health outcomes for many in these previously underserved communities.”

In line with the food desert partnership between Walgreens and the city of Chicago, a new pilot program will be launched with Northwestern Medicine and Near North Health Service Corp., designed to educate residents in food desert communities about the link between healthy food choices and preparation and better management of such chronic illnesses as diabetes.

“We know this issue is not exclusive to Chicago,” said Wagner. “We have more locations in America’s underserved communities than any other retailer. That makes us well-positioned to play a role in addressing this important need beyond Chicago.”