The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Chicago:
Few big supermarkets in poor worker neighborhoods

Nov 7, 2005

People living in wealthier neighborhoods of Chicago have many more major stores, like Jewel and Dominicks supermarkets, than do those living in poorer neighborhoods. This is the conclusion of a study just published by the Metro Chicago Information Center. And while the study concluded that the key to whether stores are in an area is people’s incomes, not their race, the fact is the areas with the fewest stores are in the South and West Side black communities and the Hispanic Pilsen-Little Village area, which are also among the poorest areas in the city.

People in such areas have to drive to other areas to buy things, using up their precious free time and gas just to go shopping. But over a quarter of the people in Chicago have no car. So people turn to small neighborhood stores, which have higher prices and poor quality goods. Often they pick things up at gas stations or liquor stores, where the prices are still higher.

Of course, the big supermarket chains give explanations – but they never open their financial records so we can check them out.

In any case, a rational society that worked to meet the needs of people would organize distribution of food near where everyone lived. The perishable products would be fresh, the entire store would be clean, with excellent service. And this is all the more important since it’s food we’re talking about – something we all need every day to stay alive. The measure of this society, of how ill adapted it is to people’s needs, is that it doesn’t do that.