CHICAGO — A pop up food market on the West Side is about to end its run, but organizers are hoping to find a way to keep it up and running.
The pop up market started in early May and runs through next Tuesday, June 7.
The weekly grocery market features affordable food staples for the West Garfield Park community. The grocery option came after the local Aldi store closed last year.
“The folks in the Garfield Park community lost access to fresh produce and proteins, so why not provide that temporary solution,” said Top Box Foods executive director Tim Kollar.
The Aldi grocery store closure in the 3800 block of W. Madison left residents like Tony Laraviere and Fabian Conner with few options.
“It was disappointing,” Laraviere said. “Now I have to get a cab I can’t afford or Uber to go to the grocery store and come back.”
“It was a big hit,” Conner said. “My grandparents don’t know where to go anymore. The Family Dollar closed from the pandemic and then Aldi left.”
Local leaders are working to fill the Aldi site with a new retailer, but in the meantime, several community groups received a $25,000 grant from the Chicago Region Food System. Leaders partnered with 40 Acres Fresh Market and Top Box Foods to create the West Side-area grocery market pop up every Tuesday from 2-6 p.m. in the 4300 block of W. Madison.
“This is much cleaner. It’s fresh. You don’t get fresh food produce just anywhere,” Fabian said.
In April, Whole Foods announced it would be closing its store at 63rd and Halsted in Englewood in the coming months, further exacerbating the food desert and disinvestment crisis on the South and West sides. There are no plans for a replacement, but a city contract states a new retailer must be in operation within 18 months.
Connor called the news “very disheartening.”
“Everyone wants to be healthy,” Connor said. “We all see our aunts and uncles and grandparents going through what they’re going through from a health standpoint.”
Kollar says nonprofits like Top Box Foods must step in and try to help fill the void.
“It shouldn’t matter where you live,” Kollar says, “in order to eat well.”