On October 25, 2011, the White House First Lady, Mrs. Michelle Obama, traveled to her Chicago hometown to discuss the need for healthy foods in unprivileged communities. The event took place at a local redesigned Walgreens store on the city’s Southside, in an area known as a desert community.  This new store layout contains several isles of fresh produce and basic grocery stables, located at the front part of the store.  Prior to Walgreens deciding to take on this redesign store model, these underserved communities had very few stores with selections of healthy food options. Now, the chain has made a commitment to redesign 1,000 of its stores using this model.

Jones and Michele Obama
The First Lady and PF contributor Wilbert Jones

National grocery chains such as SUPERVALU, Wal-Mart, Roundy’s Supermarkets and ALDI have come onboard to bring fresh fruits, vegetables and meats to communities that have had limited to no access to these important foods. Many big cities call these communities food deserts – defined as an industrialized city where healthy and affordable foods are difficult to obtain. Food deserts also exist in small towns and rural parts of the country, mostly in low socio-economical communities.  In addition, it is a known fact that food deserts are directly correlated with bad diets and unhealthy eating habits, which can yield to an abundance of health problems such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

National grocery retailer ALDI will open its 39 store in the Chicago next fall. President Jason Hart states, “We have provided Chicagoans with the highest quality grocery products for more than 25 years, and today, we continue to stress the importance of healthy food options.” ALDI produces a private-label FIT & Active line of products that are low in fat, calories and sodium. The line contains an assortment of frozen entrees, nutritional cereals, and fruit based drinks.

Under the Let’s Move mission, the First Lady launched a comprehensive initiative dedicated to solving the problem of obesity within a generation. Those children born today will grow up healthier and able to pursue their dreams. Of course, the first step is to put children on the right path, through their parents, by giving them helpful information and fostering environments that support healthy choices, which include families having access to healthy and affordable foods, healthier foods choices in the schools, and getting children involved in physical activities, such as daily exercise.

The First Lady was alarmed to learn that over the past three decades, childhood obesity rates in America have tripled. Today, one out of three children in America is either overweight or considered obese.  To start reversing these crises, everyone from the parents to the national grocery retailer’s help is needed.

To support her cause further, Obama will release a book titled American Grown: How the White House Kitchen Garden Inspires Families, Schools, and Communities.  The book is scheduled to hit the bookstores April 10, 2012.

The focus of the book is to tell the story of the White House Kitchen Garden. Obama will explore “American Grown” – how to increase access healthy and affordable food, as well as how to promote better eating habits and improve the health of families and communities across America. Some family recipes and tips for starting a personal garden will also be included.  All proceeds of the book will be donated to charity.

From the December 12, 2011, Prepared Foods' E-dition