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Food Desert

Food Desert

Douglas Gayeton

Food Desert

Location: Altgeld Gardens Liquor in Chicago, IL

I ask Erika Allen of Chicago’s Growing Power (which has started a farm at Altgeld) how to remedy a food desert in your neighborhood. Her answer? Grow your own.

Altgeld is one of the oldest public housing project in the United States. Aside from a liquor store situated on site, there are no nearby food sources for the community’s more than 2,500 residents. It is a food desert — an area where residents lack access to affordable fruits and vegetables, whole grains, milk, legumes and other food that constitute a healthy diet. Grocery stores are either inaccessible to these shoppers due to high prices and/or inadequate public transit. As a result, residents often buy food and drinks from gas stations, fast food restaurants and corner stores, which primarily sell processed food. This often leaves these individuals at risk for obesity, diabetes and chronic illness. According to Growing Power’s Michelle Lee, “It’s a food drought with less food or no food and lots of hungry people.”

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