The Englewood Healthy Community Forum was held Saturday, June 18th, in the Great Hall of Kennedy King College, as a collaboration between community-based organizations in Englewood, the Englewood Neighborhood Health Clinic, the University of Illinois at Chicago and the Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN). More than 150 community residents attended the forum and either provided feedback for legislators on changes they perceive as critical to the health and wellness of their community or learned more about the current and potential food options available in their neighborhood. The program was interactive from beginning to end, with a legislative panel session that included both local and state policy makers, in addition to a solutions panel that featured local grocery and convenient store managers and Dr. Rami Nashashibi, IMAN’s Executive Director, who spoke to the importance of the Fresh Food Fund allocation and the work of the Muslim Run campaign. The last hour of the forum focused on skill building, where participants had their choice of six different workshops, including Growing Food, Food and Nutrition Resources, Mobilizing Community Residents, Getting Healthy Food in Our Community, Neighborhood Safety and Healthy Children. Dr. Rami Nashashibi and Shamar Hemphill of IMAN hosted the Mobilizing Community Residents workshop and garnered the largest number of attendees in one session; 30 community residents and 15 IMAN leaders. Participants provided wonderful feedback and expressed satisfaction with all aspects of the forum. They spoke about looking forward to a more unified approach to work involving food access in Englewood in the future.
The Muslim Run campaign is hard at work in all three tracks: business, education and policy. This month the business track submitted a proposal to the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children (CLOCC) recommending that the CLOCC engage corner store owners and community residents in working together to provide alternatives to unhealthy food options currently available in neighborhood stores. The education track is preparing an overall program to kick off a grassroots education campaign, which includes re-surveying store owners and community residents to collect data on the status of the problems surrounding food from their perspectives. The policy track is continuing to educate both local and state legislators on the goals of the campaign and urge them to direct additional resources into the community to increase the availability of more affordable healthy foods.