A Black entrepreneur is on a mission to combat food insecurity in Chicago. According to Block Club Chicago, Liz Abunaw is opening a fresh food market to ensure that residents on the West Side have access to affordable and healthy food options.
Food deserts have been a longstanding issue in Chicago. Many low-income residents living in West and South Side communities often have to travel over a mile to go to a full-service supermarket. A study conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture identified 39 Cook County neighborhoods as food deserts. Aware of the staggering statistics and passionate about the importance of health, especially in the midst of the pandemic, Abunaw decided to create a permanent physical location for Forty Acres Fresh Market. The store will open its first brick-and-mortar location in the Austin community this year.
“Neighborhoods with fewer grocery stores have worse health outcomes; higher rates of diet-related illness, obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, kidney disease. These are all far more prevalent where food is less available,” Abunaw said in a statement, according to the news outlet. “From a social infrastructure standpoint, a grocery store is part of the community. That’s community cohesiveness and social cohesion that makes the neighborhood better to live in.” She wants to use her business as a vessel to empower the community by hiring local and featuring brands created by entrepreneurs from the neighborhood. Although this will be the market’s first physical location, Abunaw has been hosting grocery pop-ups for two years. Forty Acres Fresh Market was collaboratively funded by the Lumpkin Family Foundation, the Christopher Family Foundation and a state business grant for diverse entrepreneurs. The Westside Health Authority helped lead the project as well.
News about the new market comes months after a group of teenagers from Chicago launched a project to transform a liquor store on Chicago’s West Side into a pop-up fresh food grocery store.