Not many people would see value in a retired Chicago Transit Authority bus with 500,000 miles on the odometer, a slow engine, and seats bursting at the seams. But in late 2011, a group of Chicagoans looking for a way to transport groceries into their deprived neighborhood had a vision. They bought the bus for $1, and with grant money, made repairs, tore out the seats, and gave it a fresh paint job and a fitting new name: Fresh Moves.
Today, Fresh Moves, a nonprofit serving the city’s south and west sides, has two buses in its fleet, with a third coming in June. When growing season arrives, the crates onboard overflow with locally grown fruits and vegetables. And the lines of residents awaiting its arrival grow longer and longer.
If Mayor Rahm Emanuel has his way, services such as Fresh Moves will soon take root and flourish citywide under a completely revamped food system designed to change the way Chicagoans eat. Emanuel’s recently adopted, $5.8 million Recipe for Healthy Places is a comprehensive agenda seeking to curtail obesity by changing Chicago’s food culture. His goal: to make fresh food affordable and available within a mile of every resident’s home. And why not? This is, after all, home of The Bean.