Northwestern Medicine, Walgreens and Near North Health Service Team Up to Combat Diabetes in Chicago's Food Deserts
Physicians will write prescriptions for healthy foods that will be discounted at select Walgreens food desert locations
One of the most important—and easiest—ways to control diabetes is through healthy diet and exercise. In an effort to raise general awareness about the benefits of healthy eating, Northwestern Medicine, Walgreens Corp. and Near North Health Service have launched their new Food Oasis program. Called Greenlight Select, the pilot targets diabetic patients of Near North to receive prescriptions for healthy foods that are redeemable for discounts at select Walgreens food desert locations.
“We view our Food Oasis offering with Walgreens as a way to meaningfully expand on our 40-year partnership with Near North and to provide added support to patients in our Diabetes Collaborative,” said Dean M. Harrison, President and CEO of Northwestern Memorial HealthCare, partner in Northwestern Medicine and parent to Northwestern Memorial Hospital. “With more convenient access to healthier foods and health education programs, we believe Food Oasis could ultimately help improve health care outcomes for thousands across the city. We are hopeful this program can be expanded to patients with hypertension, obesity and much more.”
The program combines the “food oases” of Walgreens’ new fresh markets and the educational backdrop of the Diabetes Collaborative, Northwestern’s and Near North’s 5-year-old program that teaches diabetics how to control their illness through a healthy lifestyle. Through a $2 million grant, Northwestern Medicine researchers developed educational modules and worked with Near North to construct two, full-scale mock grocery stores within two of the federally qualified health center’s community clinics—one being the Komed Holman Health Center where food prescriptions will emanate. To launch the pilot, prescriptions will only be redeemable at Walgreen’s 67th and Stony Island location.
Walgreens has redesigned 10 of its stores on Chicago’s South and West Sides to include more than 750 new food items including fresh fruits and vegetables, frozen meats and fish, pasta, rice, beans, eggs, whole grain cereals and other healthy meal components.
Greenlight Select strives to incentivize diabetics to apply the teachings of the Diabetes Collaborative and follow through on making better food choices. Experts have declared that roughly 633,000 of Chicago's 3 million residents live in food deserts, or neighborhoods either lacking or too far away from conventional supermarkets.
Kris Lathan, Director
Northwestern Memorial Hospital
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