Walgreen Co. has converted a drug store in San Francisco's Bayview community to its "food oasis" format.

Walgreens, food oasis, food desert, San Francisco, Bayview, fresh food, grocery, drug store, drug chain, Bill Hose, Edwin Lee, Malia Cohen, Leland Yee, Chicago, Oakland, Berkeley

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San Francisco community gets Walgreens 'food oasis' store

July 8th, 2011

DEERFIELD, Ill. – Walgreen Co. has converted a drug store in San Francisco's Bayview community to its "food oasis" format.

Walgreens said Friday that its store at at 3rd Street and Williams Avenue in San Francisco now offers a bigger assortment of fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains, beans, lean protein and other healthy meal items to help address the need for greater access to affordable, nutritious food in this community.

According to the drug chain, the neighborhood has been identified as a so-called "food desert," with a dearth of grocery stores offering foods for a healthy diet.

The new layout includes about 500 extra square feet of space for food items, which Walgreens said may be an unprecedented offering in the city from a traditional retail drug store.

Walgreens added that the Bayview location is its first store in the San Francisco Bay area undergo the food oasis redesign and that, by the fall, it plans to open stores with expanded food selections in food deserts in Oakland and Berkeley, Calif. Citing a U.S. Department of Agriculture report, the chain said almost 1 million Californians live in areas deemed as food deserts.

"As one of the top pharmacy, health and wellness resources in Bayview and throughout the city, we are pleased to be making this commitment to becoming a convenient source for wholesome food along with other daily living needs residents here trust us for," Bill Hose, Walgreens' market vice president for northern California, said in a statement. "Tackling the issue of healthy food accessibility is key to improving health outcomes in underserved communities. We believe our new offering will provide a level of access that will help many customers make improvements to their diet and help lay a foundation for basic disease prevention."

Walgreens held grand reopening event at the Bayview with Mayor Edwin Lee, Supervisor Malia Cohen and State Sen. Leland Yee. "Today, Walgreens opens its 'food oasis,' an addition that will help provide residents of the Bayview community with access to nutritious food," Lee commented. "Providing greater access to fresh food for our city's residents greatly improves their health and vitality, and I welcome this new addition to our Bayview neighborhood."

Walgreens kicked off the food oasis effort in Chicago last summer with 11 stores in the city's south and west sides. And last week the company unveiled plans to boost its food oasis store count in the Chicago area to nearly 50 during the next two years

The chain added that it continues to review opportunities to bring the format to other food desert areas nationwide.

"The response to this new offering in Chicago has been strong, and we are looking forward to having the same positive impact in more communities," Hose stated. "No other retailer has more locations in America's underserved neighborhoods. That makes us well-positioned to play a larger role in addressing this important health need."