Whole Foods Market opens in Chicago's Englewood Community

Whole Foods Market opens in Chicago's Englewood Community
A new grocery store, Whole Foods, opens in the Englewood neighborhood on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016. (Jose Osorio/Chicago Tribune)

The long awaited Whole Foods Market officially opened their doors today in Englewood. The area, on the South Side of Chicago, that has been called a "food desert" for many years will now have access to high-quality foods and produce.

Mike Dichosa, an associate team leader in produce of a Whole Foods Wrigleyville location, helps stock fruit and produce at the new Whole Foods at Englewood Square shopping center in Chicago on Sept. 27, 2016. Jose M. Osorio / Chicago Tribune

Mike Dichosa, an associate team leader in produce of a Whole Foods Wrigleyville location, helps stock fruit and produce at the new Whole Foods at Englewood Square shopping center in Chicago on Sept. 27, 2016. Jose M. Osorio / Chicago Tribune

The question, on the minds of many, is can residents afford the price? Whole Foods Market which for years has been called "whole paycheck" by many due to their high prices has promised to keep their quality up while making an effort to hold down prices.

Bulk items at the new Whole Foods at Englewood Square shopping center in Chicago on Sept. 27, 2016. Jose M. Osorio / Chicago Tribune

Bulk items at the new Whole Foods at Englewood Square shopping center in Chicago on Sept. 27, 2016. Jose M. Osorio / Chicago Tribune

At today's ribbon cutting ceremony Mayor Rahm Emanuel was joined by Whole Foods Market Co-CEO Walter Robb and hundreds of community members committed to bringing access to fresh, healthy food to Englewood and surrounding South Side neighborhood residents, plus more than 100 new jobs and economic opportunities.

To celebrate opening day, Whole Foods Market hosted its version of a ribbon cutting called a “Bread-Breaking Ceremony” with Whole Foods Market Team Members and Englewood neighbors beginning at 8:30 a.m.

Doors opened and shopping officially began at 9 a.m. Music, food, samples and more will be offered from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. for all who attend.

The new 18,000-square-foot store at 832 W. 63rd St. represents three years of community collaboration and will have products from more than 35 local suppliers on its shelves.

Jennifer Kennaugh, left, and Steven Steiner, both with FOODMatch stock and prepare the olive bar at the new Whole Foods located at Englewood Square shopping center at West 63rd and South Halsted Streets in Chicago on Sept. 27, 2016. Jose M. Osorio / Chicago Tribune

Jennifer Kennaugh, left, and Steven Steiner, both with FOODMatch stock and prepare the olive bar at the new Whole Foods located at Englewood Square shopping center at West 63rd and South Halsted Streets in Chicago on Sept. 27, 2016. Jose M. Osorio / Chicago Tribune

“Today we are doing much more than opening the doors to a new Whole Foods. We are opening doors to a new future for the Englewood community,” Mayor Emanuel said. “This store is also putting products from dozens of local suppliers on its shelves, helping turn small businesses into big businesses and creating even more economic opportunities that reach across Chicago.”

Whole Foods Market is promising to share the experience of the joy of eating and living well in good health by inviting shoppers to touch, taste, and experiment with a wide variety of natural and organic foods free of artificial colors, flavors, preservatives and sweeteners.

The Market is hoping to become "a community partner, a trusted resource for nutrition and health and a community-gathering place."

Workers installing art work on the new Whole Foods Market. Photo: Jose M. Osorio Chicago Tribune

Workers installing art work on the new Whole Foods Market. Photo: Jose M. Osorio Chicago Tribune

While skeptics have wondered if a Whole Foods Market could work in this neighborhood, a Whole Foods Market that opened two years ago in a Detroit neighborhood suffering from similar poverty, blight, crime and unemployment to Chicago's Englewood community has been a success with the "aisles packed" along with providing more jobs and food alternatives for residents.

Beyond the store, Whole Foods Market promises to support local initiatives by donating healthy food for community events and activities.

The Whole Kids Foundation has awarded garden grants to eight Englewood schools to build or enhance food gardens on the campuses and supported healthy eating education for teachers.

For now, it's wait and see but if promises are kept, it looks like this could be a win-win for the community and Whole Foods.

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Filed under: Chicago food landscape

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