By: Micaela Shambee– Editor, The Drive
–It is no secret that South-siders constantly face the reality of food droughts everyday. Every corner has the same setup: fast food restaurants on every other block, liquor stores on every other corner, Arab owned “Mom and Pop” grocery stores on every street. Black people who occupy South side neighborhoods constantly face the choice between 3 for $1 bags of chips and $3 salad kits to purchase for themselves and their families.
Which would you choose on a limited budget?
With cuts to food stamps and increased taxes such as the infamous “Sugar Tax” and “Bag tax,” South-siders are on the brink of stretching their budgets to the max.
So why would First Presbyterian Church close the 65th & Woodlawn and Kumunda Gardens without warning?
Neighborhoods like Auburn-Gresham, who rely heavily on food pantries and community gardens to supplement their grocery budgets, are being hit on both ends with community gardens facing the ax.
According to the Change.org petition to save these Gardens,
“For over a decade, the 65th & Woodlawn and Kumunda Gardens have been a major source of food and a treasured island of shared green space for residents on Chicago’s South Side.
We are stunned to learn that the landowner, First Presbyterian Church, plans to close both gardens immediately. No reason has been given.
The gardens’ closure would be a blow to Southside families, our health, and budgets, and to the hundreds of food pantry clients who depend on the fresh produce we provide weekly. We will have to turn away the teen job skills and food justice programs we host each summer. Non-gardening neighbors will be impacted when these cultivated spaces revert to trash-strewn vacant lots. This would be a heartbreaking waste.”
The expansion of stores like Whole Foods and Marino’s opening their doors in the Englewood and Hyde Park areas have been a spark of hope in the food drought currently plaguing south side neighborhoods. Though the arrival of these stores are a sign that the best is yet to come to the south side, it is devastating to learn that community gardens are not valued enough to keep open and available to these already food scarce neighborhoods.
Want to do something about this? Start by signing this change.org petition: Stand for Food Justice. Save Woodlawn’s Gardens!
Stay informed, open-minded, and driven.