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Non-Profit Hands Out 1K Meals As Temporary Solution to Chatham Walmart Closure

Organizers like Jamal Cole of My Block, My Hood, My City are offering a temporary solution by passing out food, but they are looking for a permanent one

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Four Walmart stores across Chicago will close indefinitely by the end of Sunday.

The company announced plans to shut stores in Chatham, Little Village, Kenwood and Lakeview in less than a week, citing poor performance.

On Sunday, residents in the Chatham neighborhood rallied against the sudden closure and said it leaves them with fewer options to get healthy groceries. The Walmart sign was already taken down from the store when NBC 5 showed up for the “Feed the People” rally in the afternoon.

Non-profit organization My Block, My Hood, My City passed out 1,000 meals as a temporary solution to the closing of the location on South Steward Avenue.

The closure left many, like resident A.J. Bibbs, needing some extra help. He picked up a meal box that contained items like fruits, vegetables, chicken and beans. 

“I feel great, as far as the store closing, it’s a tragedy,” Bibbs said.

Video from Sunday showed bare shelves that once held food, which people said was typically priced lower than at other area stores.

“I feel like it’s a little more affordable,” said shopper Kenya Brownlee.

The closing also affected the pharmacy, which Walmart said would close up to thirty days from last Tuesday’s abrupt announcement.

Walmart issued a statement saying, in part, “It was hoped …investments would help improve our stores’ performance. Unfortunately, these efforts have not materially improved the fundamental business challenges.”

Don’t blame the community, said Jahmal Cole, the founder of My Block, My Hood, My City.

"The corporations come here. we be so excited when they get here then they say the bottom line is more important than the community health," he said.

Organizers like Cole are offering a temporary solution by passing out food, but they are looking for a permanent one and hope the space will be repurposed to help the community.

“We are willing to work with the mayor and the alderman we just want this space," said Cole.

“Walmart is in the driver’s seat here, they own that land. They have committed to the academy to a not-for profit. I asked the community to be brought into that process,” said Ronnie Mosley, alderman-elect from the 21st Ward. “They have stated that their first actions will be to close the store then bring in their transition team and then we should expect some communication.”

In the meantime, while community leaders and Walmart figures out next steps, residents said they are more than grateful for the rally.

“Every little bit helps,” said Bibbs.

My Block, My Hood, My City said moving forward, the organization plans to give 1,000 food boxes out once a month in the same spot, the Walmart parking lot, to help residents following the closing.

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