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Challenges Facing Chicago Neighborhoods

Across Chicago’s 70+ communities, there are estimated to be more than 500,000 people facing hunger and food insecurity. Residents struggle with population loss, a lack of jobs, school closures, a housing crisis, and gang violence — especially in a post-pandemic environment. Food deserts affect every part of the city, with a larger presence in the South and West sides of Chicago.

Interconnected with this, many Chicagoans also suffer from these challenges:

  • LifeExpectancy-health-medical-heartbeat-life

    Life Expectancy Gap

    A 30-year life-expectancy gap between South Side/West Side Chicago neighborhoods and higher-income North Side neighborhoods is the largest in the country (NYU School of Medicine)

  • Asset 962


    56% of Riverdale (South), 43% of North Lawndale (West), and 24% of Uptown (North) households live below the poverty level as compared to 13% in Cook County (Chicago census data 2008-2012)

  • Food Insecurity

    More than 613,000 residents in Cook County have lived in households that struggle with food insecurity since 2021 (Feeding America)

  • Low Income

    More than 18% of Chicago residents live in poverty. Median household income in Chicago’s South Side neighborhoods, at $28,217, is in gross disparity to the median Chicago household income at $58,247 (American Community Survey, 2019)

  • Food Desert Status

    More than 500,000 Chicago residents live in a food desert. While the average number of grocery stores in a community is 4.27, 57 of Chicago’s communities are below average. This has a direct relation to economic status, as new businesses are unlikely to establish stores in lower income areas (Illinois Institute of Technology, 2021)

What is Food Insecurity?

The condition where people cannot reliably access adequate, nutritious food.

What is a Food Desert?

An area with a poverty rate of at least 20 percent and where at least a third of the population lives more than a mile from a supermarket or large grocery store.

How Does Food Insecurity Happen?

Chicago residents effected?


Chicago Metro Area


Latinx Communities


Black Communities

What does this mean for the people living in Englewood?

Growing up in Englewood has not been the easiest experience. As a child, you experience so much so fast. From hunger to loneliness to violence, it felt like the problems came often...The opportunity to consume fresh fruits and vegetables is not something that I am used to. I feel sometimes that I don’t deserve it because no one has cared to offer it to us consistently.

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