In Chicago, there still exist a number of food deserts which have a significant negative impact on the health and well-being of several communities. While observing health disparities in Chicago, The Illinois Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights defined a food desert as a low access area to fresh foods which are vital to healthy lifestyles (Abrajano). These conditions almost exclusively exist in African-American communities on the west side, and they are correlated with conditions such as obesity (“Examining the Impact”). The low access to fresh food is counterbalanced with more access to unhealthy, processed foods high in fructose corn syrup. This issue has become much more than an epidemic, but a civil rights issue which is hard to fight against if the communities in these conditions are not equipped with the proper tools to speak up themselves.
In terms of solutions, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has shed light on this issue in part of his Chicago 2020 Plan, claiming to take the initiative to eliminate food deserts by 2020. For this reason, several community groups have done real work towards achieving this goal. In general, a good way to mitigate this problem is to continue to engage with those groups such as Growing Home, Food Desert Action, and Growing Power. This would affect the communities which experience this stress to well-being the most, and can be influenced more by volunteers and politicians that can develop a better understanding of the engagement this requires. Moving further, we know that this issue is on radar of the Congressional Committee and the State Committee, however there need to be more policies released to tax unhealthy foods and non-local businesses which sell these foods. Local food is ever-important in order to be sustainable (Frasier), so as long as pressure is held on these political systems, the more planners and policymakers can think about paving the way to a more equitable urban environment in which citizens are not held back by the initial barrier of health.
Frasier, Evan, and Elizabeth Frasier. “A Manifesto for Solving the Global Food Crisis.” The Guardian.
Guardian News and Media, 2014. Web. 06 Oct. 2016.
Other works cited:
Abrajano, Barbara. Food Deserts in Chicago. Rep. The United States Commission on Civil Rights,
Illinois Advisory Committee. N.p., Oct. 2011. Web. 19 Sept. 2016.
EXAMINING THE IMPACT OF FOOD DESERTS ON PUBLIC HEALTH IN CHICAGO. Rep.
Chicago: Mari Gallagher, 2006. 2-40. Print.