When IMAN introduced the Muslim Run campaign almost three years ago, it was a visionary call for a different way of doing business. As such, it was fortunate to attract the interest of everyone ranging from storeowners looking to transform their own businesses, to individuals who fervently believed in Islam’s mandate for good and fair business to foundations committed to food justice and healthy places.
With broad support and the passion and commitment of our grassroots leaders the campaign has taken special form over the last year, with an actionable plan to help small businesses throughout the Southwest Side implement alternative business models. After hosting a dinner at the end of Ramadan that brought together local storeowners for an intimate conversation on the importance of this movement, IMAN is moving Muslim Run to its next phase.
The support of the Consortium to Lower Childhood Obesity in Chicago (CLOCC) has placed IMAN in the position to take two significant actions over the next year. The first is a walkability assessment in West Englewood that will assess the safety of sidewalks, crosswalks and intersections near schools and public parks. This effort is being guided by two Muslim Run leaders, but is also being taken as an opportunity to provide community service and service learning hours to local youth in need of such work to complete their high school requirements. We hope to transform this issue into an area of advocacy, involving local politicians who have been supportive of our past efforts around safe and healthy communities.
The second action is the Corner Store Initiative that will begin in late October. An assessment of several stores already in conversation with IMAN about transforming business practices will provide a fuller sense of the state of local food providers. Four stores will ultimately be selected as ‘ideal stores,’ whose model we will seek to popularize and emulate in other businesses. These stores will become sites for increased healthy food offerings, as well as sites of education about healthy living, and one store in particular will be selected to receive special funding to supplement its fresh food offering.
Muslim Run continues to move forward in producing a viable solution to the crisis of food deserts and in promoting healthier communities on the Southwest Side.