Corner Store Campaign
The Corner Store Campaign addresses the long history of injurious business practices, ingrained racial tensions, and unhealthy food options that typifies many inner-city corner stores. Since launch, the campaign has focused on four critical goals.
Campaign Goals Overview
Developing alternative business models for corner stores on Chicago’s South Side.
Thriving small businesses are an alternative to the current trend of ‘big box’ and ‘discount stores’ returning to the very communities they previously abandoned. Small, locally-owned businesses can provide viable, sustainable solutions to the food access crisis ravaging low-income communities. They also have potential as economic engines for community development.
Using public policy to promote lasting change toward food justice.
Small businesses owners face increasing challenges from incoming discount and ’big box’ stores. We seek innovative policy solutions to help small businesses compete in this changing landscape, including but not limited to: city ordinances, grants and micro-loans for local corner stores to stock fresh foods.
Launching an education campaign that stresses the benefits of healthier lifestyles.
Healing racial tensions between Muslim and/or Arab store owners and their mostly Black patrons.
’Food and liquor’ stores are commonly found in majority-Black, low-income neighborhoods. These stores are often owned by Arab immigrants, many of them Muslim. Very real racial tensions exist between store owners and residents. As a Muslim organization located in a low-income neighborhood, IMAN understands the marginalization experienced on both sides. We believe that the work toward a solution to the food access crisis includes healing the relationships between Arab store owners and Black residents.
Food Choices Tell the Tale of Two Cities
Attached is a side by side comparison of a 12 block by 4 block radius in the West Englewood and Lakeview neighborhoods of Chicago. These maps reflect the abandoned buildings, vacant lots, corner stores, and other food retail establishments within each radius. While West Englewood and Lakeview are only 15 miles apart from each other, in terms of access to food and resources for development, there is a stark contrast between the two neighborhoods.
In an effort to increase accessibility to fresh produce and healthful food options, IMAN hosts a locally sourced market throughout the Summer and Fall months featuring local local vendors, inspiring artistic expressions, food demonstrations, sampling and giveaways.
As part of the Green ReEntry-led renovation, IMAN’s Backyard Garden began growing and harvesting fresh produce in Spring 2018. This garden will not only be used for fruits and vegetables, but as an outdoor education space and model for sustainability in inner-city communities.
Culinary arts can be healing, as well as lead to long-term employment. IMAN plans to refurbish an existing commercial kitchen space in its center for the purpose of entrepreneurial development and training. The community kitchen will be a space that will incubate small businesses offering food products by providing commercial kitchen space and support the workforce development training in the culinary arts. The project seeks to prepare area residents, including youth and their families, for future food service and culinary employment. IMAN, in collaboration with the Greater Chicago Food Depository, will provide hands on training and experience in nutrition and best practice food preparation.
Englewood Fresh Market Co-op
The Englewood Fresh Market Co-op will be a dynamic, community-driven social enterprise that serves as a creative food hub in Englewood that will address healthy food access and catalyze additional investment. It is located in a 15,000 sq. ft. two-story building. The first floor will feature the marketplace, while the second floor will encompass training and office space. Once completed, the Co-op will employ an open-concept floor plan to integrate a corner store carrying locally-sourced products, a sit-down space offering plant-based soul food, and vibrant local performance and visual arts displays. Much community planning has gone into this initiative over the past few years and more information is coming soon!