The Houston City Council unanimously voted to grant an exemption to regulations to allow grocers to sell beer and wine near schools and churches. Council regulations previously prohibited grocers from selling alcohol within 300 feet of churches and private schools and within 1,000 feet of public and some private schools. Without alcohol sales, grocers have been reluctant to locate their businesses in areas such as Third and Fifth Wards. With high concentrations of churches and schools, these areas have become “food deserts”— areas lacking access to healthy food choices — which contributes to diet-related illnesses — obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Council members are already meeting with grocers looking to locate businesses in the area.