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    Walgreens Vows to Convert or Open 1,000 Food Oasis Stores

    Initiative part of retailer collaborations with First Lady to boost fresh food access

    Walgreens will join First Lady Michelle Obama and the Partnership for a Healthier America to fight childhood obesity and provide more nutritious food and health care to underserved communities by converting or opening at least 100 food oasis stores over the next five years, the Deerfield, Ill.-based drug store retailer said yesterday at the White House.

    "With more than 45 percent of our stores located in 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 Walgreens president and CEO Greg Wasson.

    Wasson appeared with Obama to support her “Let’s Move!” [rogram and the White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity. Research shows that a major factor in childhood obesity, as well as diabetes and cancer, is the existence of “food deserts” -- areas without sufficient access to healthy food -- the company said.

    The task force has recommended a comprehensive approach that mobilizes public- and private-sector resources to make it easier for Americans to make healthier dietary decisions.

    Walgreens first addressed this issue in 2010, when it opened 10 stores in Chicago neighborhoods identified as food deserts, effectively making them food oases. The stores offer a larger selection of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and other healthy meal components, increasing selection by up to 60 percent.

    Along with healthier food, the company noted it will also offer high-quality, affordable and accessible traditional pharmacy services and immunization services and, in some locations, Walgreens' Take Care Clinics, professional walk-in health care centers that provide access to a variety of services with no appointment necessary.

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