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The Chicago Tribune reports on a new study by the Metro Chicago Information Center saying that “poor residents of Chicago's South Side live in a ‘commercial desert’ where they have little access to major grocers, pharmacies or other retailers, but have plenty of liquor stores and fast-food restaurants nearby…” The Tribune notes that “once that commercial pattern is established, it perpetuates itself, making it hard for a poor neighborhood to attract other options.”

"It's expensive to be poor," Mari Gallagher, author of the study, tells the paper. "Food items often cost more at a smaller non-chain store, in part because owners buy their food stock individually in much smaller, more expensive volumes."
KC's View:
This is a particularly interesting story in view of the piece we had the other day about a study by the Rand Corp. that says the cost of fresh fruits and vegetables – not the availability of fast food joints – tends to have a greater impact on weight gain in children.

And there was another story about how store sin poorer sections of California actually didn’t seem to have the wherewithal to both compete with larger stores and adhere to sanitation codes.

It may be more expensive to be poor that Gallagher thinks, if it creates an inability to access fresh fruits and vegetables and shop in a clean, sanitary store, both of which can cause expensive health problems.

Y’know, Wal-Mart has an urban strategy. Wouldn’t it be something if the Bentonville Behemoth decided it wanted to make ample grocery selections, superior fresh foods and clean stores available to America’s inner cities? After all, Wal-Mart was built on the back of “C” markets…and that’s exactly what some inner city communities are, even if surrounded by “A” and “B” neighborhoods.

Its reaction to natural disasters already has improved the company’s public image. This could be a natural next step…looking to not just make money, but to market effectively and efficiently to the nation’s poor.

Who could argue or complain about that?