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City Hall: Food Deserts Shrunk 20 Percent Since 2011

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File Photo: Grocery store (Photo credit Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)

File Photo: Grocery store (Photo credit Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)

dellimore250 Craig Dellimore
Craig Dellimore, political editor for WBBM, joined the station in 1983...
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CHICAGO (CBS) – The City of Chicago is celebrating a milestone in its efforts to reduce so-called “food deserts” in low-income neighborhoods.

WBBM Newsradio Political Editor Craig Dellimore reports the Emanuel administration said the number of people who live more than a mile away from stores that sell fresh fruits or vegetables has been reduced by 20 percent since 2011.

Two years ago, First Lady Michelle Obama visited Chicago to highlight the plight of poor neighborhoods where places to buy fresh produce and other healthy foods were virtually non-existent.

Michael Negron, the mayor’s chief of policy, said a lot has changed since then.

“For those neighborhoods, those areas where low-income residents live more than one mile from a grocery store, we’ve seen a 21 percent reduction over the last two years,” he said.

When Mayor Rahm Emanuel took office, the population of food deserts in Chicago was more than 100,000. That population has dropped to 79,434.

Negron said it’s an important milestone, but still far from the goal of eliminating food deserts altogether.

Sonya Harper, with the community group Growing Home Inc., said just talking about such food deserts can change a neighborhood.

“By letting people know in the neighborhood, as well as outside the neighborhood, that ‘Guys, we live in a food desert,’ now we’re thinking, ‘Okay, well what do we do to combat that?’” she said. “Now we’re actually having those conversations, and we’re actually doing more. The non-profits are doing more.”

The topic of food deserts is the focus of this week’s “At Issue” program, airing at 9:30 a.m. and 9:30 p.m. on Sunday on Newsradio 780.

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