ENGLEWOOD — With the cut of a yellow ribbon, a market opened its doors to neighbors on Tuesday morning, promising fresh food and healthy essentials for Englewood patrons.
The Go Green Community Fresh Market, a nearly $5 million grocery store, is open. Neighbors can visit the store 7 a.m.-8 p.m. daily at 1207 W. 63rd St.
Dozens of neighbors joined local leaders and city officials to celebrate the grand opening of the two-floor market. The Go Green Community Fresh Market is a milestone for the community, said Sana Syed, senior director of strategic initiatives at the Inner-City Muslim Action Network, one of the community partners behind the market.
“The Go Green Community Fresh Market is not just a grocery store that is committed to providing nutrient-dense foods at an accessible and affordable rate,” Syed said. “It is a cultural hub. It is an oasis. It is a platform for local food entrepreneurs. It is going to drive health outcomes. It is going to drive business improvement and business growth.”
The fresh market is one of many projects envisioned as part of Go Green on Racine, a multi-million-dollar initiative aiming to transform the 63rd Street Corridor into a prime destination. City Council approved plans to transform a nearby lot into a parking lot and green space for the market in July.
Comprised of a group of community leaders, the Go Green On Racine team — the Inner-City Muslim Action Network, Teamwork Englewood, Resident Association of Greater Englewood and E.G. Woode — hope to bring bustling businesses, housing, amenities and reliable access to public transit in the community.
Cecile DeMello, executive director at Teamwork Englewood, said the market’s opening is the beginning of “multiple developments” soon headed to the corridor.
“Hundreds of families come and take their children here to play in the park, go take a book out of the library and enjoy themselves,” DeMello said. “But now they can go grocery shopping on 63rd and Racine.”
While organizers marked the day as one for celebration, they also criticized what dozens had to gather to celebrate. Access to food is a basic, fundamental need, and Englewood residents should have always had healthy food options, Syed said.
“I don’t want to lose sight of the fact that this is a milestone,” Syed said. “It took a whole lot to get here, but there is a long way to go. … It took power to break our communities and our neighborhoods down, and it will take power to build them back up.
“I don’t want us to forget tomorrow what we achieved today, but I also don’t want us to lose the fire that we feel today, tomorrow.”
Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the market is “an important milestone on a longer journey that we must continue to fight for.”
“While I am ecstatic to be here, while we should continue to be celebrating, I think it’s important for us to reflect on what it is that we’re celebrating,” Lightfoot said. “How much blood, sweat and tears it took to get to this moment, and what we can do to commit ourselves so that it doesn’t happen again.”
Lightfoot said she is committed to eradicating food deserts on the South and West sides to make sure communities have access to “basic things” like healthy food. She also will work with the Go Green On Racine team to reopen a closed school as a regenerative place in the community, she said.
“We’ve got to make sure that we are building more to stabilize this community and support the aspirations for the things that we all want: A good life, a peaceful life, being able to build wealth and pass it on to our children, have great affordable homes [and] access to health care,” Lightfoot said.
With shelves stacked with breakfast cereals, seasonings, loaves of bread and produce, the Go Green Community Fresh Market is ready to serve every neighbor. Food from local entrepreneurs is wrapped and available for purchase.
Imani Muhammad, an Englewood resident, has her bean pies on the shelves. She said this is just the start of a “beautiful thing.”
“This place is for the children in the community to see that anything is possible,” Muhammad said. “You can be an entrepreneur or open a business. And now they can walk down the street to see it.”
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