Anxiety Free News

USA, August 2020

PHOTO: BLOCK CLUB CHICAGO

Much of Austin, Texas, is considered a food desert, yet in the half-mile radius of 423N Laramie Ave, you’ll find 12 liquor stores and only two fresh food markets. These teens decided to do something about it.

During a listening circle with By the Hand Club for Kids, following the BLM protests against police violence, young Austinites were given the chance to voice their feelings around the inequity and lack of resources in their neighborhoods. Several voiced frustration that the few local grocery stores had to shut their doors temporarily after being looted.

So, when they were presented with the opportunity to transform a looted liquor store into a resource for the community, “the kids took the idea and ran with it,”, says Donnita Travis, executive director of By the Hand.

They were supported by local athletes, including the NFL’s Sam Acho, who believes that “People care. It’s time for people to show up...for us to be able to come together and say we’re going to lead that change, it means something”.

What’s more, in partnership with The Hatchery Chicago, the teens behind the transformation are developing a curriculum for the pop-up that will help the young people who run the market to learn entrepreneurship and business skills. The Hatchery also plans to devise a culinary pathways program for young folks to envision careers in the food industry.

“We would have fresh fruits and vegetables, but it would also be a place where people feel safe and want to hang out,” Travis said. “We could have some music and maybe we can do some healthy cooking and nutrition demonstrations and education because not everyone knows or appreciates nutrition.”

After all, nothing says community like coming together over good food and loud music.