State Representative Sonya M. Harper, D-Chicago, responded today to the recently-announced closure of the Whole Foods store located in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood. The closure of Whole Foods—opened only six years ago—diminishes the ability of Englewood residents to have equal access to grocery and food options as compared with neighborhoods on Chicago’s north side.
“I was proud to work with Whole Foods to bring a new location to Englewood because they claimed their decision was not based on profitability, but rather a desire to help provide access to healthy groceries for residents living in a food desert,” said Rep. Harper. “When Whole Foods opened this store, they mounted a publicity campaign saying they cared about the people of Englewood and our access to healthy food, but now they are cutting and running despite the millions of dollars the City offered them to come to Englewood in the first place. Whole Foods owes the community and the taxpayers a better explanation for this decision.”
The Englewood Whole Foods was opened in 2016 with the help of a $10.7 million taxpayer grant from the City of Chicago in 2014. It was hoped the store could both alleviate deficiencies in food access and spur job creation and positive economic growth in the neighborhood on Chicago’s Southwest side, where the vast majority of residents are Black and household incomes are relatively low. Whole Foods was purchased by Amazon in 2017, around eleven months after the Englewood store opened.
“This is not a failure of Englewood, despite the pain of yet another institution that thinks our wellbeing isn’t important enough,” Harper said. “Our community has dealt with many misfortunes, but we have always bounced back. Englewood is still rising, but if Amazon and Whole Foods don’t see the value in being part of Englewood’s growth, then that is their loss. I am ready to work with local officials, advocates and business partners to find a new grocery partner for our neighborhood. To start, I call on Gov. Pritzker to sign my bill HB 2382, which would create a Healthy Food Development Program to assist Englewood and other communities facing problems with food access.”
Harper’s bill was passed without opposition and was sent to the Governor for signature on April 27th.
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May 4, 2022 at 07:52PM