Supervalu to Bring 250 Stores to ‘Food Deserts’

Company executives joined First Lady Michelle Obama on Wednesday at the White House to outline efforts to fight childhood obesity; Supervalu estimates that its new stores will provide better access to fresh fruit, vegetables, and meat for 3.75 million people and create up to 6,000 new jobs.

Supervalu, Inc., has pledged to open 250 supermarkets in areas that don't currently provide easy access to fresh fruit, vegetables, and meat.

Leaders from the Eden Prairie-based company and several other U.S. supermarkets on Wednesday joined First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House to outline a five-year program that aims to fight childhood obesity.

Supervalu said that it would open 250 Save-A-Lot stores within so-called “food deserts” in an effort to improve the availability of healthy and affordable food to an estimated 23.5 million people who live far away from supermarkets.

The company estimates that its efforts will create better access to 3.75 million people and create up to 6,000 new jobs in the mostly poor areas its stores will serve.

“We reached out to the White House,” Supervalu CEO Craig Herkert told the Star Tribune shortly before his appearance at the White House. “We thought we had a good fit [for the anti-obesity push]. The idea is that we have a business model that works. This is a business proposition for us.”

According to Supervalu, its Save-A-Lot stores provide savings of up to 40 percent compared with traditional grocery stores. Wednesday's announcement to grow the number of those stores aligns with Supervalu's previously announced strategy to expand to more than 2,400 locations by 2015.

In addition to Supervalu's pledge, Walgreens vowed to add fresh fruits and vegetables to at least 1,000 stores-and Wal-Mart pledged to add or expand up to 300 stores.

To read more about Obama's efforts to fight childhood obesity, hear some reactions to those efforts, and find out more about the role of supermarkets in fulfilling that mission, click here to access a story in the Star Tribune.