Little Village needs more grocery stores, not more industrial plants

Corporations get subsidies. Mom-and-pop stores should get them too, to be able to offer a variety of fresh and affordable food in areas that are food deserts, student Monica Jimenez Jaimes writes.

SHARE Little Village needs more grocery stores, not more industrial plants
Members of the Little Village Community Council and other residents protest outside Walmart Neighborhood Market in Little Village over the closure of four Walmarts in Chicago in April.

Members of the Little Village Community Council and other residents protest outside Walmart Neighborhood Market in Little Village over the closure of four Walmarts in Chicago in April.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Time

I am writing to express my concern about the food desert situation in Little Village. For as long as I can remember, my neighborhood has been struggling with food insecurity. This is a major problem not only in my community, but also in many Black and Brown communities throughout the Chicagoland area that lack access to fresh, affordable food.

Currently, there are only two major grocery stores that offer fresh food items for a population of approximately 70,000 people in Little Village. There is only one store within a mile, which is not enough for the large number of residents. And due to inflation, the prices of healthful food items have increased. Little Village residents must wait in long lines for a “despensa” at New Life Centers, which is currently working with the Chicago Food Depository.

Access to grocery stores that offer healthful and affordable food is a basic human necessity.

The small mom-and-pop shops that are abundant in our neighborhood mostly offer a limited selection of fresh fruit, but they stock mostly snacks such as chips and sugary drinks. As a result, there has been a rise in diabetes among children and adults. This metric has been increasing dramatically over the years in low-income communities.

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Our elected officials need to bring new grocery stores into our community. The government offers subsidies to multi-billion dollar corporations, and they should offer similar subsidies to mom-and-pop stores to be able to offer a wide variety of fresh and affordable food.

Our alderman and mayor can help us by offering incentives for farmer’s markets to come to our neighborhood, which could offer affordable fruits and vegetables. They could also invest in our neighborhood, and allow for more grocery stores to set roots in Little Village instead of more industrial plants.

We need to do better for our communities.

¡Gracias por su tiempo! Con su ayuda, podemos mejorar la situación en nuestra comunidad.

Monica Jimenez Jaimes, Northeastern Illinois University student

Fair representation on Chicago elected school board

I am the parent of a diverse learner who is a high school sophomore in Chicago Public Schools. My daughter has been in the cluster special education program since pre-K, so I know the challenges that diverse learners face, especially those who live and attend high school in a community like Austin.

That’s why we need to have people in important roles at CPS who prioritize supporting students like my daughter. It’s important that we have school board members who understand the needs of diverse learners in school, but it’s especially critical that they understand the unique challenges that Black and Brown diverse learners face outside of school.

School board elections begin next year. Lawmakers drawing districts for those elections released a draft map that only has six Latino districts, even though Latino students make up 47% of CPS. That is not acceptable. We need board members who understand what our children face in their daily lives in order to best support their needs.

Lawmakers need to do a better job creating districts that can help make that possible. Then CPS families will be better represented, leading to better outcomes for all CPS students, especially those like my daughter.

Yolanda Williams, Austin

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