DEERFIELD, Ill., July 20, 2011 - In conjunction with efforts by First Lady Michelle Obama and the Partnership for a Healthier America to fight the childhood obesity epidemic and provide better food options and accessible health care to under-served communities, Walgreens (NYSE: WAG) (NASDAQ: WAG) today announced at the White House that it is committing to convert or open at least 1,000 food oasis stores across the country over the next five years.
“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 at the White House today with Michelle Obama and others to support the goals of Let’s Move! and the White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity. Research has shown that the 23.5 million Americans – including 6.5 million children – who live in food deserts, or areas without sufficient access to healthy food, face significantly higher risk of suffering from obesity, diabetes and cancer. The task force has recommended a comprehensive approach that mobilizes public and private sector resources to make the healthy choice the easy choice for all Americans.
Walgreens began addressing this issue last year when it initially opened 10 food oasis stores in Chicago neighborhoods identified as food deserts. These stores increased their food selection by up to 60 percent by offering a larger assortment of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and other healthy meal components to help address the need for greater access to affordable, nutritious food.
Walgreens also is uniquely positioned among retailers to combine pharmacy, health and wellness services with its food oasis offering in under-served communities. Walgreens offers these residents high-quality, affordable and accessible traditional pharmacy services along with immunization services and in some locations Take Care Clinics, which are professional walk-in health care centers located at Walgreens drugstores across the country. Take Care Clinics give patients the option to access a variety of health care services at their convenience with no appointment necessary.
Walgreens (www.walgreens.com) is the nation's largest drugstore chain with fiscal 2010 sales of $67 billion. The company operates 7,733 drugstores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Each day, Walgreens provides nearly 6 million customers the most convenient, multichannel access to consumer goods and services and trusted, cost-effective pharmacy, health and wellness services and advice in communities across America. Walgreens scope of pharmacy services includes retail, specialty, infusion, medical facility and mail service, along with respiratory services. These services improve health outcomes and lower costs for payers including employers, managed care organizations, health systems, pharmacy benefit managers and the public sector. Take Care Health Systems is a Walgreens subsidiary that is the largest and most comprehensive manager of worksite health and wellness centers and in-store convenient care clinics, with more than 700 locations throughout the country.