Kimberley Jenkins collects bags of fresh produce from the Producemobile in Altgeld Gardens.

In the past, many residents of Altgeld Gardens have had to walk more than three miles or pay for rides to get fresh produce.
Last week, the Greater Chicago Food Depository’s Producemobile distributed free fresh produce to 150 families in the South Side neighborhood. There will now be a regular distribution in Altgeld Gardens on the fourth Thursday of every month.
Producemobiles take donated fresh fruit and vegetables directly to neighborhoods where produce is expensive or difficult to obtain.
Altgeld Gardens is one of these isolated neighborhoods, located on the far South Side of Chicago, bordered by a wastewater treatment facility and the Little Calumet River.
Bernadette Williams worked alongside the Food Depository to bring the Producemobile to the neighborhood. She said the distribution is going to help many of the neighborhood residents.
‘We’re in a low-income area,” Bernadette said. “People are in dire need of food, especially because we’re in a food desert.”
While there is a neighborhood grocery store less than a half-mile from Altgeld Gardens, many residents said prices are too expensive.
“There are quite a few people out here who have jobs,” Janine Purvis, an Altgeld Gardens resident who received fresh goods from the Producemobile, “but there are also a lot of people who are living on fixed income, on food stamps, on a budget. They can’t afford it.”
Because of high food prices, some have to go without produce or pay for transportation to get to the nearest grocery store. This can also be expensive.
“I can’t afford oranges sometimes at all,” Janine said. “Out here, prices are high, but having to pay bus fare adds to the cost of living.”
Aseneth Edwards has been living in Altgeld Gardens for the past 49 years. She rides the bus with her shopping cart from 130thStreet to 87th Street each week to go to a grocery store. She received fresh sweet potatoes, oranges and watermelon among other produce from the Producemobile last week.
“I appreciate it,” Aseneth said. “The first thing I can say is good morning and thank you. Anybody who knows me, that’s me.”
It is one of approximately 50 Producemobile distributions that occur each month throughout Cook County.