Opinion: The west side of Blo-No is in more need of supermarkets

By Farah Bassyouni Apr 22, 2022
Credit: Canva
Credit: Canva

Living on the west side of Bloomington-Normal for more than 15 years has highlighted the lack of supermarkets on the west side of town compared to the east side of town. For the sake of making food more easily accessible and conveniently located, implementing more grocery stores could widely benefit the Blo-No population. 

As a little kid, when my mom would go grocery shopping it took her hours to buy groceries. I would call her to ask her where she was because I would wonder why it was taking her so long to buy groceries when Walmart was only a five minute drive from our home. 

She then would arrive home with a trunkload of groceries in grocery bags or in large open boxes- the kind you get at Sam’s Club. Various grocery items filled up each box, but all these items were from different stores: Walmart, Meijer and Sam’s Club. These are stores that you will not find on the west side of town, except for Walmart and Kroger. I had come to the realization that my mom had to drive to the other side of the town to be able to buy groceries from a variety of stores in order to satisfy our grocery list.

When you look at a map, you can see the west side of town has Walmart, Jewel Osco as well as Kroger. The east side of town has many other supermarkets such as Sam’s Club, Hyvee, Meijer, Walmart, Kroger, Schnucks, Jewel Osco and more. This provokes me to ask, why do families on the westside of Blo-No have hardly any convenient access to these supermarkets, but the east side families do? 

Speaking of accessibility, I am also aware of the varying statuses of household income in Bloomington-Normal. On the west side of town, there are predominantly lower levels of household income. The possibility that such families may not have the funds to access public transportation may lead many families to be food insecure. For those that do have access to public transportation, the reality of having to carry many bags of groceries makes it difficult to complete the necessary shopping all in one trip. 

My family is fortunate enough to have our own transportation and drive ourselves to the other side of town to pick up groceries, but the expense of gas can get pretty high. 

The expansion of grocery stories on the east side of town  has been growing in the past years whereas the west side has been lacking.

I am grateful to the small organizations that are helping provide food and other supplies to low-income families such as Little Free Pantry, Western Avenue Community Center and Free Summer Meals hosted by District 87. The west side of town has become a food desert and these families deserve to have the same access to food just like families on the east side of town. 

Opening more grocery stores across the west side of Bloomington could make grocery shopping a more enjoyable experience for families across town, allowing them to get all of their grocery shopping done in one single trip.

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