Walgreens plays host to the first lady

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DEERFIELD, Ill. — First lady Michelle Obama toured a Walgreen Co. store on Chicago’s South Side to get an up-close look at the drug chain’s efforts to provide better food options and accessible health care to underserved communities and to fight the childhood obesity epidemic.

Michelle Obama with Walgreens CEO Greg Wasson.

The event was part of a mayoral summit hosted late last month by the first lady’s Let’s Move! initiative.

The store is one of a dozen Walgreens locations in Chicago neighborhoods identified as “food deserts,” where there’s a dearth of retail outlets offering nutritious food.

Dubbed “food oasis” stores, these Walgreens locations expanded their food selection by up to 60%, providing a larger assortment of fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and other healthy meal components.

“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’s just talk,” Obama said. “Imagine what we could achieve if mayors across the country started taking on this issue. Think about all the jobs we could create, all the neighborhoods we could begin to transform and what it means when our children finally get the nutrition they need to grow up healthy.’’

During her visit to the city Obama and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel also joined Supervalu Inc. representatives to review the supermarket retailer’s initiatives to encourage healthy eating habits.

At the Walgreens event company officials also announced an agreement with a local network of urban farmers in Chicago to source fresh produce for Walgreens’ 12 food oasis stores in the city. The drug chain 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 president and chief executive officer Greg Wasson. “We are all working toward a common goal of getting fresh, affordable foods in the hands of people who need it most.

“Walgreens is committed to the health of the communities we serve, and that means improving access to not only medication and health care, but to healthy food as well.”


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