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Englewood Whole Foods Closing & A Food Desert Bill Passes

In 2016, a Whole Foods grocery store was placed in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood, a neighborhood known for being deficient in resources and accessibility. Now in 2022, this location and the DePaul University shop will be closing.

Placed in these neighborhoods to “bring more fresh food options to a food desert,” according to Block Club Chicago, the grocery stores haven’t even lasted in these areas for more than a few years.

In predominantly Black and low-income neighborhoods, there are fewer grocery stores which makes it more difficult for residents to have access to healthy and fresh foods. Whole Foods being placed in Englewood was a good idea in theory but not so much in practice.

Though having a local Whole Foods makes healthy and fresh foods accessible, their price point doesn’t. To put a high-end, not-so-affordable grocery store in an area where there are predominantly low-income residents makes healthy and fresh foods remain inaccessible.

“From 2018 to 2020, food insecurity increased from 20.7% to 36.9% after steady declines since 2011,” according to the National Library of Medicine.

When COVID-19 hit, the issue of food insecurity intensified. Due to supply chain issues, crops dying in excess, and lower income, among other things, it has become even more difficult for people, especially those with low-income, to get access to healthy foods. The closing of these locations couldn’t have come at a worst time causing residents to lose food and jobs.

To combat this issue, State Representative Sonya M. Harper pushed to have Governor J.B. Pritzker sign her HB 2382 bill which “would create a Healthy Food Development Program to assist Englewood and other communities facing problems with food access,” according to The Crusader.

“This is not a failure of Englewood, despite the pain of yet another institution that thinks our wellbeing isn’t important enough,” Harper said in a press release. “Our community has dealt with many misfortunes, but we have always bounced back. …I am ready to work with local officials, advocates and business partners to find a new grocery partner for our neighborhood.”

The bill was successfully passed and was to Gov. Pritzker for his signature on April 27th. Hopefully, this bill and these programs will create a change in the communities that need it most.

 

By Cierra Lemott, Junior, Columbia College Chicago

Instagram: @cece.kodak / @kodakscamera

Written by Cierra Lemott

I'm a professional procrastinator and my hobbies include sleeping, eating, and Netflix binging.

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