Englewood community in Chicago goes from food desert to oasis

Englewood Square Whole Foods (Photo credit: Eddy “Precise” Lamarre)

The Englewood community on the South Side of Chicago has gone from food desert to an oasis. Englewood Square was unveiled on the South Side on 63rd and Halsted. The presence of a Whole Foods and Starbucks in the Englewood Square shopping complex is an example of community building and providing work. This $20 million project created 200 jobs and is a glimpse at the urban redevelopment that has been necessary for one of the most impoverished and distressed communities in the city.

As we walked into the Whole Foods you can sense the excitement and the feeling of hope. We spoke with Imani Muhammad who owns “Imani’s Original Bean Pies” that are being sold at Whole Foods and asked how she feels about the new shopping complex. “Well, of course, I’m excited about it. They took us in as a local vendor. We’ve been here today giving out samples. People are enjoying it and giving a lot of feedback about how they feel about the neighborhood is up-and-coming. This showed the need for jobs and it allowed smaller companies like myself to hire one or two people. That is always a help and an aid.”

Englewood represents one of many South Side communities in Chicago that have lacked access to fresh food and employment. This lack of access is directly related to the crime rate. According to heyjackass.com, 3,246 people have been shot in Chicago to date. This urban redevelopment that is happening in Englewood should provide the much-needed support that will help move the needle in the direction of progress.

“Today we are doing much more than opening the doors to a new Whole Foods. We are opening doors to a new future for the Englewood community. This store is also putting products from dozens of local suppliers on its shelves, helping turn small businesses into big businesses and creating even more economic opportunities that reach across Chicago.” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

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