Food insecurity in America: Chicago business owner works with Rush University Medical Center after Save A Lot rat infestation

CHICAGO (WLS) — When the Save-A-lot neighborhood temporarily closed due to a rat infestation earlier this month, it hit close to home for West Garfield Park’s Deshawn Nelson.

“Born and raised,” said Nelson, owner of a local moving company. “Just around the corner.”

Nelson started giving back to the neighborhood a few years ago when his business took off.

Food insecurity in West Garfield Park is high. After the local ALDI closed last October, Save-A-Lot was the last remaining supermarket. The closure has forced residents, who often don’t have their own transportation, to travel long distances in search of fresh food. Nelson, for example, now drives up to 40 minutes to get groceries.

“You have to travel outside of your community about two miles to get to the nearest grocery store that has healthy items,” said Julia Basset of Rush University Medical Center. “They resort to their local gas station, to maybe go to a liquor store…or the most popular thing they do is go to a fast food chain.”

To help alleviate the issue, Rush University Medical Center has teamed up with Nelson and other community members to, beginning tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. and for the next few weeks, be on site and donating boxes. of food to people in the area, hopefully. until the Save-A-Lot reopens. It’s something they’ve experienced before, having done the same thing many times since the pandemic began.

“These meals that we will be providing tomorrow can feed a family of four for about a week and a half, so we will be back in the weeks to come to support the community,” Basset said.

For Nelson, work is personal.

“When I was younger I didn’t have certain things too, food,” Nelson said. “People also donated food to me and my family. So it’s good that I can give back to other families.”

According to Alderman Jason Ervin, the Save-A-Lot is currently undergoing another inspection. Once complete, they will be able to regain their license and reopen once more.

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