Walmart, Supervalu and Walgreens to open hundreds of stores in ‘food desert’ areas

New York City -- First Lady Michelle Obama and the Partnership for a Healthier America on Wednesday announced that that several national and regional food retailers have pledged to open or expand stores in low-income markets where finding nutritious food options can be difficult. The chains participating in the partnership include Walmart, Walgreens and Supervalu, which, in total, agreed to open or expand hundreds of locations as part of the effort to eliminate what the Department of Agriculture calls “food deserts” throughout the country.

The Partnership for a Healthier America is an independent, nonpartisan organization designed to mobilize broad-based support for efforts to solve the childhood obesity challenge.

Walmart said it plans to open between 275-300 stores. The planned locations have already undergone the chain’s process for new store development and include store openings and expansions. The 275 to 300 store total does not include stores yet to be considered through the company's real estate process or stores to be built in Walmart's new small format, Walmart Express.

Supervalu plans to build 250 Save-A-Lot stores in food desert areas by 2016 Walgreens committed to converting or opening at least 1,000 food oasis stores across the country over the next five years. Walgreens CEO Gregory Wasson said the chain has already found high demand for nutritious offerings in the stores where they are currently available.

Regional chains are also involved in the campaign. Calhouns Enterprises committed to build 10 new stores in Alabama and Tennessee during the next five years.

"The commitments we're announcing today have the potential to be a game-changer for kids and communities all across this country," said First Lady Michelle Obama. "We can give people all the information and advice in the world about healthy eating and exercise, but if parents can't buy the food they need to prepare those meals because their only options for groceries are the gas station or the local minimart, then all that is just talk.”

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