West Side gets fresh approach to grocery delivery

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Austin residents now have a new option to get their fresh fruits, vegetables and other food delivered right to their door: Crisp! Mobile Produce.

In partnership with the American Heart Association, Crisp! held a kickoff event last wee at Loretto Hospital, 645 S. Central Ave., to get the word out about its healthy food options.

Consumers can order a variety of healthier food options online, over the phone or through a drop-box at select locations, said Mike Hyzy, director of Crisp! Mobile Produce.

Customers also have the option of paying for their order with cash on delivery, Hyzy said, and they don’t have to have a computer or cell phone.

Orders will be delivered within two days, Hyzy said. Free delivery is available for all orders over $35 or on select free delivery days, he said.

“We want to have an option in these neighborhoods where you don’t have access to meat, seafood and fresh vegetables or fruits.”

Crisp! – an arm of Catholic Charities, according to a recent Chicago Sun-Times story – serves the whole city of Chicago, but focuses on areas on the West and South Sides – where the city has deemed the areas to be “food deserts.”

A food desert is defined as an area where residents must travel a mile or more to get to a grocery store and do not have access to healthy food items. There are 29 neighborhoods in Chicago that qualify as food deserts, according to the American Heart Association.

The neighborhoods of Austin, Hermosa, Pilsen, Humboldt Park, Roseland and South Shore have also been targeted by Crisp! as food deserts.

Part of the appeal of Crisp! for Austin resident Chlease Amadji, who attended the event with her 4-year-old son, Prosper, and her three-year-old granddaughter, Armini, are the lower prices Crisp! offers and the convenience of having staple foods delivered.

“It’s a struggle sometimes to get to the grocery store,” Amadji said.

Prices on fresh fruits and vegetables at some of the other stores in Austin can be unreasonably high if you don’t catch them on sale, she said.

Austin has seen an increase in an interest in locally grown produce and urban farming. Last month, the PCC Community Wellness Center, 5425 W. Lake St., broke ground on an 8,000-square-foot community garden.

“We need to make a demand for healthy eating,” said Ald. Deborah Graham (29th). “We’re a fast food community. We have bad habits. We need to change our eating habits.”

To illustrate how easy preparing healthier food at home can be compared to eating out at fast food restaurants, Chef Judson Todd Allen, personal chef of Steve Harvey, showed the crowd how to make a vegetarian chili.

Judson used a combination of beans, tomato paste and sauce, peppers, onions, garlic, corn, olive oil, rice wine vinegar, seasoning, lime, pineapple, and his own hot sauce to create the dish.

The chili can feed about six people, requires up to four hours of cooking time and can be created for under $15, Allen said.

The challenge of getting people to eat healthier can be overcome by “making the food look sexy,” Allen said.

For more information on how to have food delivered to you, and to check on future presentations by Crisp!, click here or call (312) 948-7800.

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