Improving Healthy Food Access

Through our pilot store in Greater Grand Crossing and related fresh food access initiatives, we’ve learned about the unique business challenges of grocery retail in underserved low-income communities. We’ve shared our experience with organizations nationwide seeking to launch similar initiatives. Currently, we’re working to formally document and disseminate our findings to inform public health efforts on the issue of healthy food access.

You can learn more about grocery access in your community with these map tools by the USDA and The Reinvestment Fund (TRF).

CURRENT AND PAST PROJECTS

Partnership with Neighbor Capital
Louis’ Groceries provides equipment and technical assistance to Neighbor Capital as it seeks to expand its fruit cart business to target consumers in healthcare and similar settings where dietary health is a focus.

Fruit and Veggies for Kids
In 2014, we piloted a delivery program together with area public schools and the University of Chicago, providing low-income families with fresh fruits and vegetables on a weekly basis. Institutional funding covered overhead and delivery costs, while the generous support of individual donors made the produce more affordable for families. We’re now working with the same partners to implement similar food delivery programs in coming years.

Louis’ Groceries
In December 2012, we launched our flagship initiative in Greater Grand Crossing on Chicago’s South Side, a neighborhood grocery store with a 1,300-SF retail space and 500-SF in-store kitchen/classroom. The store stocked roughly 50 varieties of fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh packaged meats, dairy products, bread, and other perishable foods not available at existing community corner stores. The store also carried a wide variety of shelf-stable and frozen groceries, along with typical convenience store items like chips, candy and soda. Louis’ Groceries employed community members, and offered neighborhood residents opportunities to participate in in-store education and research programs. Sadly, we closed the store ahead of schedule in December 2014 due to ongoing infrastructure problems resulting from a building fire. Insights from data gathered at the store, along with general business lessons learned, guide our ongoing work on healthy food access and choice. We’re in the process of documenting our findings from this pilot project and will share those shortly on this website.

Louis' Groceries exterior   Louis' Groceries interior
Louis' Groceries interior   Louis' Groceries interior
Louis' Groceries kitchen/classroom   CDPH Commissioner Dr. Choucair visits Louis' Groceries, May 2014
Mayor Emanuel visits Louis' Groceries, January 2013

“Chicago’s Food Deserts are a ‘Civil Rights Issue,’ Experts Say’ – Progress Illinois, March 20, 2014 

“Louis’ Groceries: A South Side market studies consumer choice” – Time Out Chicago, February 14, 2013.

“Louis Groceries: an experiment in selling healthy food” – WBEZ 91.5, January 15, 2013

“New Grocery Store Serving Fresh Foods in Chatham Community” – Chicago Defender, December 20, 2012

“Flooding the Food Urban Deserts” – Chicago Policy Review, December 1, 2011