Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Chicago's mayor wants win over food deserts!

Chicago's Mayor, Rahm Emanuel, wants to get rid of food deserts and he's turning to urban agriculture and food retailers to make it happen. Using planning tools like mapping, local ordinances and economic development incentives, the Mayor hopes to ensure implementation of policies aimed at increasing food access.

Urban Agriculture...
In a progressive move, Mayor Emanuel sees urban agriculture as a part his plan to "win" the battle against food deserts and plans to see food grown in the city sold in the city. He also plans to eliminate burdensome barriers for farmers and develop site guidelines for urban growing.

Mayor Emanuel sees large supermarkets as an important part of the plan to eliminate food deserts. According to the ABC news article he plans to designate certain neighborhoods as food deserts and then provide incentives for the construction of supermarkets in those areas. However, smaller markets are concerned that they may lose business if big chains come into those areas.

Don't forget corner stores...
We applaud the Chicago's commitment to increasing food access for all residents and suggest that they include corner stores in the conversation. Corner stores can be a critical piece in increased food access since they are already located in food deserts and are very accessible to residents without cars. If provided with technical assistance or other incentives, corner Stores could have a positive impact on reducing food deserts and also provide economic development in struggling neighborhoods. HKHC Buffalo facilitates a Healthy Corner Stores Initiative in Buffalo. We are working to bring healthier foods to more people by eliminating policy barriers and partnering with the economic development field to provide loans and incentives to small grocery stores for equipment purchases.

To see how corner stores can have a positive impact check out what other cities across the country are doing as part of the Healthy Corner Stores Initiatives

Philadelphia, PA

New Haven, CT

Washington DC

Providence, RI

Minneapolis, MN

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