A group of teens joined professional Chicago athletes to transform an old liquor store into a fresh food market on Chicago’s West Side.
The Austin Harvest Market is entirely run by high-school students on Chicago’s West Side in what is commonly known as a “food desert.”
“You’re looking at a place where liquor stores outnumber grocery stores, probably somewhere around 15-16 liquor stores,” Rodney Williams, director of entrepreneurship and economic development for By the Hand Kids Club, told NBC News. “You’ve got maybe two to three supermarkets at best.”
The food market used to be a liquor store, but now it only sells fresh produce.
“It’s only fruit and vegetables, no junk,” Donovan Allison, one of the teens, said.
Former Chicago Bears linebacker Sam Acho assisted with start-up costs and was there to cut the ribbon on opening day.
Acho and more than a dozen Chicago athletes raised $500,000 to transform the old liquor store into the grocery store so the teens could run it, WGN reported.
Acho called the day “a celebration of hope coming to life.”
“Not only are they getting jobs, getting paid to bring healthy food into their communities, but they’re also changing a stereotype. So many people have a negative stereotype of black people in America,” Acho said.