CHICAGO — A thousand Chicagoans arrived at the now former Walmart in the Chatham neighborhood Sunday for a food drive held in partnership between two local nonprofit organizations.

My Block, My Hood, My City and Top Box Foods gave out 1,000 boxes filled with fresh fruits and vegetables to the South Side community as a temporary stopgap solution for an area that has now become even more of a food desert with the exit of the supermarket chain, who also closed three other Chicagoland locations as of Sunday, April 16.

“It hurts because now we got to go all the way to Western and 95th to go shopping,” said Juanita Pittman, an Englewood resident who was at the food drive Sunday.

“People felt abandoned. We are already abandoned by many things,” said Lena Babins, Block Club leader from My Block, My Hood, My City. “But for something big like this to leave for a reason of theft, people felt disappointed. So we are here, we are going to stand up to the call.” 

Alderman Ronnie Mosley (21st) said he has been in communication with Walmart and the City’s current leadership over the closure, and is hopeful community involvement will help determine the future of the four now-vacant sites.

“We are asking for the community to be at the table. Walmart owns this land and that gives them a lot of authority in the situation,” Mosley said. “We want to make sure voices from the community are heard.”

In the meantime, organizers want impacted communities to know they’re not alone and that they are there to help.

“This isn’t the first time, and we are going to continue on,” Mosley said. “We are looking forward to continuing the work. It won’t be the last.”

According to officials with My Block, My Hood, My City, community members can expect to see this kind of giveaway once a month, on top of their weekly Thursday food drives.