Northwestern Medicine and Near North Health Service Corp. has partnered with Walgreens in a new pilot program designed to improve access to affordable, healthy foods for diabetics living in food deserts. The Greenlight Select Program provides practical tools to help manage their health. Diabetics will receive food “prescriptions” from the Komed Holman Health Center that act as discounts on produce and other nutrient-rich food items. The patients may use these prescriptions at the Walgreens located at 67th and Stony Island.
The fresh food center is not only designed to benefit diabetics. This Walgreens location is one of ten Chicago stores that have been redesigned to include new food items, assisting consumers in neighborhoods where healthy food is scarce. The modification strives to eradicate food deserts inflicting the more than 600,000 Chicago residents (according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) who live in neighborhoods with limited access to grocery stores with fresh, healthy food. The enhanced Walgreens is now selling about 750 new food items that include fresh fruits and vegetables, eggs, whole grain cereal, frozen meat and fish, and rice and beans.
While there will only be ten expanded Walgreens by the end of August, this is a positive step in Chicago. Selling healthy and fresh food at Walgreens seems like a great idea since there seems to be one on every block and has the potential to reach a large percentage of the population. Even though Walgreens is not aiming to be a full service grocery store, they are providing a variety of choices of healthier food and the chain plans to expand its fresh food center to about 400 stores across the country in the next few years.
Is it possible that with the expansion of this program, fresh fruits, vegetables and healthy food will soon be like Starbucks coffee… available on every corner?
To read more about the Greenlight Select Program and the fresh food center now available at some Walgreens locations, read these articles.