Vacant grocery stores highlight food deserts in Rockford communities

By  | 

ROCKFORD, Ill (WIFR)--- Second ward alderperson Tony Gasparini is fighting to bring a grocery store to the five-year vacant store front on Rural and Prospect street.

"It was a center piece for that area," says Gasparini.

Former grocery stores that are now empty, are stranding communities in food deserts. Some areas in Rockford like the North-West side don't have a grocery in a one mile radius.

"An elderly woman who a grocery store had closed in her neighborhood and she told me that she had been doing her grocery shopping at Walgreen's," says Linda Sandquist with United Way of Rock River Valley.

Vacant grocery stores and lack of transportation are major contributors of food deserts.

"You can live in a neighborhood, not have transportation, and even if a grocery store or a market is within a certain radius of your house, that doesn't mean you have an easy time accessing that," says Sandquist.

United Way and Top Box Foods​ partners up monthly to bring pop up grocery stores where they aren't available.

But community leaders are urging for a long-term solution.

"You can't let these places sit empty, it's not fair to the community and it leaves food deserts," says Gasparini.