Entrepreneurial Teens Transform Liquor Store into Much Needed Food Market for Their Community
2020 was a devastating year for rioting masses destroying major US. cities. No municipality was hit harder than Chicago's innercity, which totaled 20 million dollars in damages due to looting and anarchist destruction to property in the summer alone. Enter the silver lining of this otherwise chaotic scenario: a precocious entrepreneurial group of teens with a heart who transformed an abandoned liquor store into an alternatively healthy pop-up food market in their underserved neighborhood. According to the teens, their motivation came from after their area's (a historically impoverished and virtually segregated part of Chicago where healthy food has always been scarce) grocery markets had to close down due to looting.
The young teens said they wanted to turn their frustration of not having healthy food options in their neighborhood into proactive action.
Given that the teens lived in an area classified as a "food desert," a term originally coined in the '90s to describe a region where there are no supermarkets that sell fresh, healthy options of food, their efforts could not have come at a more opportune time.
"What I heard coming out of that was that students wanted to take all those raw and powerful emotions and turn them into something good, and do something from a social justice standpoint," the group's executive director Donnita Travis told Book Club Chicago.
So, Why Are Areas Like Austin Food Deserts in the First Place?
As far as why areas like Austin end up as food deserts, to begin with, the answer is simple: neglect from municipal services that stem from systemic and centuries-old racism. It is no coincidence that the overwhelming majority of areas deemed as a food desert are primarily neighborhoods and communities of color.
In other words, when it comes to improving communities like Austin’s food opportunities, it won’t happen unless those who already live there take it upon themselves to right the wrong of the city’s racist indifference towards them as a community. Luckily for the people of Austin, their community happens to be the home to a considerably motivated and bright group of teens, steadfast in changing the lives of those in their neighborhood.
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From darkness comes light. From despair comes hope. From passion comes change. In the wake of turbulent racial protests in America’s Midwest, a group of teenagers in Chicago’s Austin neighborhood were looking for a way to uplift their marginalized West Side community—and they found it.
“With a little help from their friends”, a galvanized group of young entrepreneurs transformed a gutted liquor store into Austin Harvest, a pop-up food market to provide healthy food alternatives for their underserved neighborhood.