Englewood worries about food desert with Whole Foods exit

CHICAGO (CBS) — A town hall meeting was held on Wednesday evening to address the issue of a food desert in Englewood – just weeks before the permanent closure of a Whole Foods store in the community.

The Whole Foods at 832 W. 63rd St. in the Englewood Square complex is scheduled to close on Sunday, Nov. 13 — just before Thanksgiving. According to city data, the only supermarket that will remain in Englewood after this is the Aldi store at 620 W. 63rd St. near Wallace Street.

Another smaller grocery store, Go Green Community Fresh Market, also opened this year at 1208 W. 63rd St.

Englewood Whole Foods made headlines when it opened in 2016. As it is about to close, residents of Englewood have raised concerns about a lack of grocery stores.

As CBS 2’s Jermont Terry reported, community leaders tried Wednesday night to allay those fears — while explaining what, if anything, will move in the Whole Foods space.

“I love the community,” said Donna Austin. “I think it can be bigger.”

Austin has lived in Englewood for 12 years. She is one of many people who find themselves leaving her community to buy groceries.

“I shopped at Whole Foods — and I think it’s turning into a desert, yeah,” she said.

Austin was among those who attended a grocery town hall at Kennedy-King College, 6301 S. Halsted St., Wednesday night. City leaders discussed what is needed to address the lack of quality grocery stores in the Englewood community and beyond.

For Austin’s part, she said, “I want the right store, and more of a store.”

Austin said she would walk a good distance to do her shopping. She is lucky enough to drive, but many in Englewood rely on public transit, forcing them to cut expenses. Austin is downsizing too.

“Shop less,” she said. “I buy less because Whole Foods suited me.”

Many Englewood residents depend on financial aid. But the goal is to make sure they have more buying options.

“We deserve to be able to shop a few blocks away,” Austin said. “We should be able to have everything in our community like everyone else does.”

No final decision has been made on who will take over the soon-to-be vacant Whole Foods space. The goal is to keep the community engaged and, more importantly, to let them know that their voice matters.


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