After West Garfield Park Save-A-Lot closes over rat infestation, Rush, neighbors provide groceries

CHICAGO (WLS) -- West Garfield Park residents lined up for a food giveaway in the parking lot of the closed Save-a-Lot Monday morning. Within an hour, bags full of fruits, vegetables and other basic food items were gone.

"We all need a little help," resident Chiquita Jackson said. "It's been hard for everybody with our community losing these grocery stores and things of that nature. It's a sad situation."

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Because of a rat infestation, the Save-a-Lot was forced to temporarily shut down. The closure came after a nearby Aldi closed last October, leaving West Garfield Park residents without a local grocery store.

"We have no way to get fresh food, produce," Jackson said. "We have to go spend double the price at a convenience store. It is so unfair."

"For people to have to travel outside their community to get healthy food is ridiculous," said organizer Julia Bassett, with Rush University Medical Center.

To help residents the fill void until the Save-a-lot reopens, Rush University Medical Center is teaming up with community residents to give way away enough food for a family of four for the next week and half.

"Right now, I have funding for about three more distributions and hoping to get additional contributions," Bassett said. "And if they don't open up, I'll find the money."

Bassett said the next giveaway will include community health workers to help residents with additional resources.

The Save-a-Lot is in the process of re-inspection. The plan is to reopen once it passes inspection.

However, even when it does, the issue of a food desert on Chicago's West Side remains.
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