Grant funding for urban, Downstate farmers targets nutrition crisis worsened by COVID-19
Johari Cole-Kweli grew up in the West Side K-Town neighborhood, got her microbiology degree from Michigan State University, then worked for pharmaceutical firms before realizing Big Pharma couldn’t solve nagging health disparities in the Black community.
Her solution? The 50-acre Iyabo Farms she owns in Pembroke Township, an hour and a half south of Chicago.
The 28-year-old farm run with her husband and two children is among 27 statewide recently awarded $250,000 in grants from the Illinois Stewardship Alliance, to meet skyrocketing demand for local food spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic. Demand has grown nationwide.
Three of the 27 are in Chicago: Catatumbo Cooperative Farm, at 2232 S. Marshall Blvd.; Closed Loop Farms, at 1400 W. 46th St.; and Star Farm Chicago, at 934 W. 50th Place.
Along with Cole-Kweli’s farm and Broadview Farm and Gardens in Marengo, those three are among the five owned/operated by persons of color, whose grants are seeded by a new Fresh Food from Farmers of Color Fund established by the Illinois Department of Human Services, with federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) monies.
Read the full column from Maudlyne Ihejirika here.
12:40 p.m. Poll finds 1 in 3 Chicagoans have emptied their savings to survive coronavirus hardships
The coronavirus pandemic has had a devastating effect on the nation’s economy, with half of Chicago households surveyed in a recent poll reporting they’re facing serious financial problems because of it. More than half of Black and Latino families surveyed said they were particularly hard-hit.
That’s according to a new poll, published Wednesday, by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. The poll, which was conducted from July 1 through Aug. 3, received responses from more than 3,400 people in four major U.S. cities, including 529 adults living in Chicago.
During the pandemic, many Chicagoans have experienced job or wage losses, which has made it difficult to make ends meet.
As a result, more than 1 in 3 Chicagoans report using up all or most of their savings, according to the poll. Still, many have fallen behind in rent and mortgage payments, with 1 in 4 Chicagoans reportedly having trouble paying their rent or mortgages. And about 20% of people reported skipping or delaying major bill payments to ensure everyone had food to eat.
Read the full report from Madeline Kenney here.
10:01 a.m. We asked Chicagoans how the first day of school went. Here’s what you said
In a first day back unlike any other, Chicago Public Schools students, parents and teachers launched the school year remotely on Tuesday. We asked Chicagoans how it went. Some answers have been condensed and lightly edited for clarity.
“No real issues but very stressful. It was impossible to work from home at the same time, especially with four kids having to be logged in and on camera all at once. Luckily, I had my dad here to help, but not sure how long that will last.” — Joey Lynn Battaglia-Pinaglia
“Stressful. I work at a learning center. I had three students, three different age groups, three different schools, three different electronic devices, three different portals/apps. Most links worked. Others didn’t. I’m emotionally drained.” — Jennifer Landin Hurt
“Three kids, I’m working remote, and I only got interrupted once by my fourth-grader. I call that a success.” — Bri Yount
“Pretty good. I encouraged him to get up in between classes to stretch his legs. It was a bit more difficult to get him back in his seat afterwards.” — Shelly Rachal Estrada
Read the full story by Alice Bazerghi here.
7:36 a.m. ‘Many more’ CPS child care sites to come after the first 6 open this week
Chicago Public Schools officials are operating child care services at six schools across the city for families who are strained by the return to remote learning this fall.
So far there are 111 students registered for the program, with children who are 14 or younger, homeless or facing other economic hardship receiving first priority, officials said. “Many more sites” are set to open Sept. 21, schools chief Janice Jackson said this week.
“We’re going to serve thousands of families, I think that’s important,” Jackson said. “But Mayor [Lori] Lightfoot wanted to make sure we had something ready on day one.”
The district surveyed families’ needs in the weeks leading up to the school year as the details of the plan continue to be worked out on the fly. The priority deadline was Sept. 1 for the survey through which families could indicate interest in the service, but it’ll remain open for additional sign-ups — though space could run out.
Reporter Nader Issa has the full story.
Analysis & Commentary
8:34 a.m. Are video arcades more dangerous than casinos during a pandemic?
Casinos and video arcades, both of which feature rows of electronic games that people use in close proximity to each other, pose similar risks of COVID-19 transmission. Yet in Massachusetts, casinos have been open for two months, while video arcades remain closed under an order that Gov. Charlie Baker originally issued in March.
Like many of the distinctions drawn by the COVID-19 lockdowns that all but a few governors imposed last spring, this one makes no medical sense. A federal lawsuit filed last week argues that Baker’s discrimination against video arcades is unconstitutional because it is scientifically indefensible.
Baker originally included video arcades in Phase III of his reopening plan, which took effect on July 6, but changed course without explanation on July 2. In response to a state legislator’s inquiry, the governor offered nothing but boilerplate about “the latest science” and “input from public health experts.”
Read the full column from Jacob Sullum here.