A Michelle Obama-backed initiative to get more grocery stores in food deserts is reportedly falling short

Fruit sold at a supermarket
(Image credit: PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images)

In 2011, a group of food retailers agreed as part of First Lady Michelle Obama's healthy eating initiative to open or expand 1,500 grocery and convenience stores in food deserts — poor areas with no supermarkets nearby — by 2016. That plan isn't working out too well, The Associated Press found in an analysis published Monday.

Not including dollar stores and 7-Elevens, only 1.4 million people of the 18 million who live in food deserts (based on 2010 USDA numbers) have seen a new supermarket open up within the last four years, AP reports. And of the 10,300 stores food retailers (not just the ones involved in the 2011 pledge) opened in new locations from 2011 through the first quarter of 2015, just over 250 were grocery stores in food deserts that sell fresh fruit, vegetables, and meat.

And according to a 2014 progress report from Partnership for a Healthier America, the group Obama serves as honorary chair of, the food retailers who made the 2011 agreement have not yet reached half of their 1,500-store goal yet.

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Read more about AP's findings here.

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