For most communities on the South and West Sides of Chicago, fresh produce does not come easy. When I first moved to Chicago, I had a grocery store (Dominick’s) an easy 15-minute walk away from my apartment that was located on 71st street in the South Shore neighborhood of Chicago. Three months after moving into my South Shore apartment, the grocery store closed, and my neighborhood was left without an option to purchase fresh food and other essentials. We were now considered a food desert.
The closest grocery store was a mile away, which was relatively close in comparison to friends who did not have stores within a 3 to a 4-mile radius from their homes, but absurdity to others who could step out of their Northside residence and walk to several stores in less than 5 minutes.
The inaccessibility of having access to fresh food is a story that is told too often in Chicago, a conversation that organizations like Urban Growers Collective is determined to change.
Urban Growers Collective recognized situations like my own and found a solution to bring fresh produce to residents of underserved communities, in a very unconventional way.
Urban Growers Collective is a woman and people-of-color led organization who founded the “Fresh Moves Mobile Market” back in 2012. They launched with a $100,000 federal grant and two CTA buses that were no longer in service with a goal of serving 10 communities on the South and West Sides of Chicago. Now, in partnership with the Mayor’s Office, the City of Chicago, Barilla US and Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), the “produce aisle on wheels,” continues to make nutritional food more accessible at affordable prices to the city’s mostly African-American, and underserved communities.
In 2018, “Fresh Moves Mobile Market” served 10,000 Chicagoans and expects to help even more this year as they continue to deliver fresh produce to underserved communities. The mobile markets are making stops at schools, community and health centers. The buses stocked with fresh, organic food grown on Urban Growers Collective’s seven urban farms located throughout the city in the neighborhoods of North Lawndale, Austin, Garfield Park, Washington Park, Englewood, Roseland, Woodlawn, Grand Boulevard, Fuller Park and South Shore.
The “Fresh Moves Mobile Market” will also host Saturday events, promotions, flash sales such as receiving a free box of Barilla pasta when spending five dollars on the bus. “Fresh Moves Mobile Market” also accepts various payment options including cash, credit card, and Link, and Farmers Market Nutrition coupons.
Residents can find the “Fresh Moves Mobile Market” this summer at the following locations starting Monday, May 6th:
• Mt. Sinai Hospital, 10am-11:30am (2653 Ogden Avenue)
• Trina Davila, 12pm-1:30pm (4212 W. North Avenue)
• N. Kostner Health Center, 2pm-3:30pm (1520 N. Kostner Avenue)
• True to Life Foundation,11am-12:30pm (8828 S. Stony Island Avenue)
• Claretian Associates, 1pm-2:30pm (3201 E. 91st Street)
• GAGCD Auburn-Gresham, 3pm-4:30pm (1159 W. 79th Street) *Starts May 21st
• Howard Brown Health, 1pm-3pm (641 W. 63rd Street)
• Bronzeville Boxville, 4pm-7pm (332 E. 51st Street) *Starts June 5th
• King Center, 1pm-2:30pm (4314 S. Cottage Grove)
• Komed Holman Health, 3pm-4:30pm (4259 S. Berkeley Avenue)
• Thresholds South, 11am-1pm (718 W. 47th Street)
• Acad. for Global Citizens, 2pm-4pm (4941 W. 46th Street)
While it is not a permanent solution, the mobile market is an encouraging and compelling step in the right direction for food justice in underserved communities in Chicago. For more information on how you can get involved with Urban Growers Collective, visit at urbangrowerscollective.org or call 773-376-8882 for updates.