The Chicago Hunger Games

On Wednesday, I roamed the streets of Chatham in search of food. Not just any food. We all know there’s great food all over Chatham: McDonalds, Burger King, Church’s, Harold’s, Billy’s Gyros and the aptly name Mild Sauce. No, I was searching for a diamond in the rough. Or what some would call, a needle in a haystack.

Had to “borrow” this pic.

I was actually looking for a healthy place to eat in Chatham.

We’re all painfully aware of the food desserts that plague the city of Chicago but what about the lack of healthy or health conscious restaurants on the south and west sides of the city? The healthiest restaurant in Chatham is Subway. Really?
What I would like to know is, what must we do to bring more businesses and grocery store chains to Chatham, Woodlawn, South Shore, Park Manor, Grand Crossing, Austin and other neighborhoods in our city?
I applaud the recent addition of Wal-Mart and several Save-A-Lot stores to the community but it’s simply not enough. I also applaud the efforts of small businesses like Quench, Soul Vegetarian East and Sizzling Skillets but again it’s not enough. I’m sure critics will be quick to point out the levels of crime and poverty as a reason why businesses are not there and why they don’t succeed. But frankly that’s not reason enough to dismiss the issue.
This year, I moved to Hyde Park, perhaps the most diversified neighborhood on the South Side. I love the fact that I can walk to Treasure Island and grab some small groceries even if they’re way too expensive for my budget. If I want to grab some sushi, Thai or fresh fruit, it’s all on the same corner of my block.
I literally had to move out of my neighborhood to live in a community with nice restaurant selections and more improved grocery stores. This shouldn’t be the case in Chicago. When I lived in South Shore, the closet restaurants were J&J fish and the local Chicken Wing/Gyro/Diabetes/High Cholesterol spot. When I lived in Chatham, at the end my block there was a McDonalds and Burger King.
Why won’t places like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods open a store on the South & West Sides? Why can’t I find Panera Bread, Jamba Juice, Chipotle or even a Sweet Tomato between the borders of 95thand 55th streets?
Of course, when you live in neighborhoods with those limited options, you don’t have to eat at those places. Sure, you could cook dinner every night but why does that have to be the only option?

Still Hungry,

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