“The City of Chicago is reimagining the role government can play in our lives by exploring a public option for grocery stores via a municipally owned grocery store and market,” said Ameya Pawar, senior advisor at Economic Security Project. “Not dissimilar from the way a library or the postal service operates, a public option offers economic choice and power to communities. A city-owned grocery store in the South or West side of Chicago would be a viable way to restore access to healthy food in areas that have suffered from historic and systemic disinvestment."
The impact of inadequate food retail reaches beyond food access. Grocery stores serve as anchors in communities by employing community members and acting as a catalytic business for nearby commercial activity. Grocery store closures, especially in areas that rely on one grocery store provider, force residents to leave their neighborhoods and spend money outside of their communities to find healthy, affordable, enjoyable food options. This contributes to the existing “retail gap” many south and west side communities face, where millions of dollars in local residents’ purchasing power that could have been invested in their community ends up supporting retail stores in other parts of the city. This feasibility study will contribute to the administration's commitment to investing in innovative solutions to address community infrastructure, neighborhood revitalization, and economic vitality.
The findings of the feasibility study will help inform the Johnson administration’s emerging food retail strategy, which will receive input from experts, community leaders and Chicago’s Food Equity Council. If advanced, Chicago would be the first major city in the United States to implement a municipally owned grocery store to address food inequity.