Chicago Mayor’s Big Idea: Government-Run Grocery Stores

AP Photo/Paul Beaty

Amid skyrocketing crime rates and dire economic conditions, Chicago’s South and West sides have seen a mass exodus of private grocery store chains and other businesses. This has left local residents in a tough situation, with many grappling with food insecurity and other issues. It is a sharp contrast to what these communities offered ages ago.


As more private entities pack up and leave the area due to the lack of profitability and violent crime, the city’s government might be preparing to step in to fill the void.

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson will explore the possibility of a city-owned grocery store, an idea long supported by activists to provide relief for neighborhoods without good shopping options but that could run into stiff economic headwinds.

Johnson announced a partnership with the Economic Security Project to explore the possibility of a city-owned grocery store. The first step will be to perform a feasibility study, though the city did not provide a timeline.

“All Chicagoans deserve to live near convenient, affordable, healthy grocery options. We know access to grocery stores is already a challenge for many residents, especially on the South and West sides,” Johnson said in a statement. “A better, stronger, safer future is one where our youth and our communities have access to the tools and resources they need to thrive. My administration is committed to advancing innovative, whole-of-government approaches to address these inequities.”

Food insecurity and a lack of shopping options is a long-standing problem.

Mayor Johnson seems poised to pick up the slack after the departures of grocery stores. Now, the city’s government is positioned to address the problems faced by residents living in “food deserts.” On the left, this might look like a bold and daring move. To others, it appears to be nothing more than an expansion of government that will never provide the same quality that the private sector could if it had been allowed to thrive.


The mayor, in collaboration with the Economic Security Project, will open city-owned grocery stores through economic development grants. His office claims this initiative will not be funded with taxpayer dollars. Instead, it will tap into national and state-level funding – which is still taxpayer dollars. The idea is that this move will provide residents with access to quality food.

However, others have pushed back, noting that the real problem is the proliferation of crime in these neighborhoods. The rampant instances of violent offenses have driven these businesses away. Sam Sánchez, a Chicago restaurant owner, argued that taking care of the crime issue will inspire businesses to open up shop in the area.

Nobel intention but not a good idea. This groceries stores will be operating in the red and loosing tax payers money.

Control crime and business will come.

Chicago is not the only city in which businesses are shutting down and leaving for greener pastures due to rampant crime. The same is happening in San Francisco and other major cities with far-leftist governments. In the case of the Windy City, it seems odd that the local government would rather open up grocery stores that will surely provide substandard offerings compared to what a free-market solution would give instead of cracking down on crime.


Indeed, the role of the government is to protect people’s rights, not to sell them groceries. If Chicago’s leadership truly wanted to ensure that the residents under their governance had access to quality sustenance, it would focus like a laser on the criminal element seeking to victimize residents of the city instead of essentially letting them commit their crimes with impunity. But if they actually did their jobs, they would not have the opportunity to have the local government take over the food service industry in these parts of the city, would they?


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