You might be wondering what, exactly, is a food desert. Well, in the city of Chicago, it’s a pretty big problem. A problem in which entire communities have severely limited access to fresh fruits and veggies, and therefore suffer from significant health issues related to poor diets.
After reading a 2006 report that mapped food deserts in Chicago, a group of community activists banded together to work on a solution. Steven Casey and Jeff Pinzino were soon joined by Sheelah Muhammad. The three of them brought together the combination of skills and talents that helped make Fresh Moves a reality.
But this was not an easy problem to solve. The simple fact was that opening a traditional market would not address the neighborhood needs quickly or efficiently. National chains have difficulty finding large parcels of affordable urban land to support their high costs of operation. Independents can’t gamble on unproven locations, and ethnic markets are slow to grow. So despite high profit margins for fresh foods and substantial unmet demand, Food Desert Action had to think outside the big box.
The answer? Put the whole thing on wheels! So Food Desert Action sprang into, well, ACTION. They were able to secure a bus, donated from the CTA. They partnered with Architecture for Humanity to transform the bus into a mobile produce market. They worked with volunteers at EPIC to put together this website. And now, they’re working hard to bring the Lawndale community fresh, delicious, nutritious produce – and educating the public at large about how fun it can be to eat healthily.
Want to get involved or learn more? Contact the FOOD DESERT ACTION team directly – firstname.lastname@example.org.