Dollar store chains have begun selling fresh produce at some of their stores in an attempt to combat the growing scrutiny from local lawmakers who have said such businesses don’t provide enough healthy food options for customers.
CNN reports that Family Dollar is now offering apples, oranges, onions, and potatoes as well as frozen poultry, pork, and beef at close to 100 of its more than 7,000 stores.
Meanwhile, Dollar General has started selling fresh groceries at more than 1,300 of its 17,000 locations, with the chain telling CNN it expects to add produce departments to an additional 1,000 stores later this year.
The move comes after years of criticism from advocacy groups highlighting dollar stores’ failure to offer customers healthy food options that can be found at similar supermarkets.
Barry Popkin, a professor of nutrition at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, told CNN chains such as Dollar General and Dollar Tree “have been impervious to pushes about their health effects” and the nutritional value of the foods they offer.
Popkin added that only a small percentage of Dollar General and Family Dollar stores are selling fresh groceries and the assortment of these items is slim, noting you “can’t get much healthy food in the dollar stores” that don’t offer fresh produce, which is not an issue at Walmart, Kroger, Publix, and similar establishments.
Even so, Dollar General maintains that at each of its stores, “customers can find the components of a healthy meal.”