Effort to Reduce Food Deserts Finds Spring of Success in Chicago
"Chicago’s food deserts are shrinking, thanks to a healthy mix of new and upgraded retail stores, produce carts, urban farms, farmer’s markets and donated CTA buses filled with fruits and vegetables," reports Fran Spielman.
“We’ve made good progress, ... [but] we want to ultimately eliminate food deserts. It’s more than just about public health. It’s about neighborhood vitality, economic development and job creation,” said Michael Negron, the mayor’s chief of policy.
Eliminating food deserts has been one of Mayor Emanuel's signature efforts. "Within 30 days of taking office, he convened a summit of six grocery store executives to confront the issue, showcase maps and a detailed analysis of potential sites and secure commitments for 36 new and upgraded stores," notes Spielman. "He also pushed through legislation expanding the maximum size of community gardens, easing fencing and parking requirements on larger commercial urban farms and allowing urban farms to sell their wares at farmer’s markets."
His efforts seem to be paying off.