Health & Wellness

Pop-Up Produce Markets Fill Need in Underserved Chicago-Area Communities

$2 million of free produce will be given away before June 30, 2023.

NBCUniversal Media, LLC

Free produce markets are popping up at several senior centers and community centers in underserved communities in the Chicago area to help fill a need.

“We're going into these food deserts and bringing products I don't think they regularly see in some areas,” said Tom Prinske, owner of T. Castro, a produce distributor in Chicago.

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois teamed up with T. Castro and other produce suppliers for the free giveaways, which are open to anyone in the community.

As part of its Medicaid programs, Blue Cross and Blue Shield is distributing $2 million of free food before June 30, 2023.

The South Chicago Heights Senior Center was transformed into one of the pop up markets to help people like Shirley Rowley.

“Potatoes, onions, fruit,” said Rowley, listing what she had her eye on, now that the emergency SNAP benefits she and many other received during the pandemic ending last month.

“I have a big decrease, so I only get $26 a month,” Rowley said. “This is very helpful.”

In addition to produce suppliers, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois is also working with Meals on Wheels, Community Nutrition Network and various Illinois Counties to plan these upcoming events:

Cook County

Café: South Chicago Heights Community Café
Location: 3140 Enterprise Park Ave.
Pop-Up Dates: May 4 & June 1

Café: Phoenix Community Café
Location: 650 Phoenix Center Dr.
Pop-Up Dates: April 20, May 25 & June 15

Café: Dolton Community Café
Location: 14801 Lincoln Ave.
Pop-Up Dates: April 13

Will County

Café: Joshua Arms Senior Residences
Location: 1315 Rowell St., Joliet
Pop-Up Dates:  May 2 & June 6

Café: Fairmont Community Center
Location: 525 Barry Ave., Lockport
Pop-Up Dates: April 11, May 9 & June 13

Café: Guy A. Seil Senior Apartments
Location: 1090 S. Ceder Road, New Lenox
Pop-Up Dates: April 18, May 16 & June 20

Café: Joliet Senior Center
Location: 251 Center St., Joliet
Pop-Up Dates: May 11 & June 8

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