Jacqueline Christian is another Houston mother who has a full-time job, drives a comfortable sedan, and wears flattering clothes. ... Christian worries about not having enough food “about half of the year.” ... Her schedule, as much as her wages, influences what she eats. To save time she often relies on premade food from grocery stores. “You can’t go all the way home and cook,” she says. On a day that includes running a dozen errands and charming her payday loan officer into giving her an extra day, Christian picks up Ja’Zarrian and her seven-year-old, Jerimiah, after school. As the sun drops in the sky, Jerimiah begins complaining that he’s hungry. The neon glow of a Hartz Chicken Buffet appears up the road, and he starts in: Can’t we just get some gizzards, please? Christian pulls into the drive-through and orders a combo of fried gizzards and okra for $8.11. It takes three declined credit cards and an emergency loan from her mother, who lives nearby, before she can pay for it. When the food finally arrives, filling the car with the smell of hot grease, there’s a collective sense of relief. On the drive back to the shelter the boys eat until the gizzards are gone, and then drift off to sleep. Christian says she knows she can’t afford to eat out and that fast food isn’t a healthy meal. But she’d felt too stressed—by time, by Jerimiah’s insistence, by how little money she has—not to give in. “Maybe I can’t justify that to someone who wasn’t here to see, you know?” she says. “But I couldn’t let them down and not get the food.”
“Food Deserts” – communities with little or no access to grocery stores and quality, nutritious food choices.
In a city of roughly 3 million people, more than half of those who live there live in situations where they do not have access to a nutritious diet. This is a public health problem. People living in food deserts face twice as high a risk of cardiovascular disease. Many of Chicago's food deserts are located on the South Side. Even those who can afford to go to grocery stores often do not have time to do so and must jump through hoops just to access them. Sometimes, grocery stores are even in gang territory. Our goal is to provide a visualization mechanism to see what the problem is like on an everyday level. We often get caught up in the statistics, and the notion of going to bed hungry is so foreign to us that it has prevented us from engaging the issue. This is an attempt to help people visualize the problems of living in a food desert on the South Side of Chicago.