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I Believe

Kayla Bilal, Editor

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I believe that addressing and attacking the problem of food deserts in our city is important. In our city, there are hundreds of people in dozensof neighborhoods trying to survive, but not in the way that you might think. Imagine a struggling family, not able to provide healthy food options to their children. For hundreds of thousands of families in Chicago, this is their everyday life. Due to the lack of grocery stores, farmers’ markets, and healthy food providers in low income areas, food deserts are becoming more of a widespread issue, and are having a direct impact on the people within those communities.

Food deserts are described as places where residents don’t have access to affordable, nutritious foods like fruits and vegetables. The issue lies not only with that, but with the fact that these areas are abundant with corner stores. More often than not, these stores have limited shelf space and only provide processed, sugary foods which are directly linked to health related ailments, such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease. Although supermarkets might not be extremely far from these neighborhoods, residents usually don’t have the resources to travel long distances. Families that struggle with everyday expenses could find it difficult to purchase what some would define as a “necessary luxury”, such as a car. As a result, public transit is their go-to method of travel, which can be time-consuming and oftentimes inaccessible depending on the neighborhood that you live in. It’s evident now, more than ever before, that food deserts have become more than just an health issue. It has become a civil rights issue.

Over the years, the lack of grocery stores in lower income African-American neighborhoods has become more prevalent. Coincidentally, diseases linked to health have skyrocketed specifically within the African-American community. The lack of nutritional food that these communities receive have been linked to violent, aggressive, and antisocial behavior. Studies show that the neighborhoods that have the least amount of access to healthy foods are experiencing the most violence. If more grocery stores were placed within these areas, it could alleviate some of the health and violence issues that these families are facing and shift the trajectory of health in Chicago African-American communities for years to come.

Change needs to happen now. But how? By raising awareness through social media, talking to community leaders, engaging healthy food truck vendors to frequent these neighborhood and establishing community gardens. Although these are only temporary solutions, it’s important to put them into action because a group of people should not be deprived of a healthy lifestyle just because of their skin color or their socioeconomic status. Besides that, this issue directly affects people in my city, which should give everyone a  sense of responsibility to fix it.

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The student news site of Whitney Young Magnet High School in Chicago, Illinois.
I Believe