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Whole Foods to open store in low-income Chicago neighborhood

Store, part of healthy food push, expected to increase number of residents within mile of supermarket by 3.3%

CHICAGO — Better known as an upmarket grocer, Whole Foods Market is opening a store in a low-income neighborhood in Chicago, the retailer said. The opening, slated for 2016, is part of a broader effort by mayor Rahm Emanuel's administration to reduce the city's "food desert" problem.

The 18,000-sq. ft. store will open in the neighborhood of Englewood, serving it and the South Side neighborhood. The new store is part of Emanuel's economic development and food access programs, meant to expand access to healthy and fresh food to underserved neighborhoods in the city, which have in recent years suffered from the problem of food deserts. The program also includes efforts to develop the areas surrounding the new store, part of a 13-acre development near Kennedy King Community College.

"I have worked with Whole Foods Market for the last year and a half to invest in one of our oldest neighborhoods, and address a pressing need for fresh, healthy food, and I'm proud to announce this wonderful new facility that will help meet this need while creating a strong economic anchor in this community," Emanuel said. "I am completely committed to ensuring that all Chicagoans have access to fresh, quality and affordable food in their neighborhoods. This store will not only provide these important resources, but it will also create jobs and spur economic growth — a true win-win."

Englewood is one of seven neighborhoods that are part of Emanuel's Chicago Neighborhoods Now program, and there are more than $363 million in public and private investments in store for the neighborhood. When the store opens, 2,648 more residents of Englewood will be within a mile of a grocery store, translating into a 3.3% reduction in the total residents living in low-income areas who are more than a mile from a large grocery store. Whole Foods already operates 18 stores in Chicago, with three under development.

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