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A few years ago, I used to volunteer with a high school daughter at Garfield Park Conservatory gardens. Driving to and from this west Chicago neighborhood every Saturday, we noticed one thing we never passed: a grocery store. We used to wonder where the families we befriended in the children’s garden shopped – did they eat every meal at Burger King? Later these neighborhoods were labeled *food deserts* – and this was one of the problems Rahm Emanuel pledged in his campaign for mayor to fix. Today the Chicago Tribune covered the failure of his “energetic idea campaign” to make even a dent in the deserts of the south and west sides of Chicago.

Along came Walmart with a Neighborhood Market in the West Loop (Monroe and Adams). The privately-owned, non-union chain took a look at the needs of the neighborhood and found a way to help. Smaller than the giant suburban stores, this Walmart Neighborhood Market offers mainly food – an array of fresh produce that rivals upscale competitors. Shoppers include not just the local apartment (Presidential Towers) dwellers, but also food stamp shoppers. What brings them in? How about a bus that makes five regular stops every 40 minutes from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. throughout the Loop and west Loop neighborhoods. You could call it solving a problem, one food desert at a time.

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