When Separate Equals Hungry

A 2-part feature exploring food insecurity.

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Breath of Not So Fresh Air

Photo Credit:
Photo courtesy of CBS News

“What is wrong with the air?” asked H.H. on WGN’s posting.

The cloudy photo garnered 121 comments and was shared over 400 times. Alerts sprinkled across group chats in one J.S. shared, “air quality in Chicago is so bad right now 10 minutes outside is equivalent to smoking 7 cigarettes…Thanks Canada.”

It seems as though the inescapable blanket of haze has everyone's attention. It’s hard not to be distracted by the fog. Some are heeding the warnings and staying inside. “I’m in the house and my husband has asthma,” posted A.J., while others shared how the haze was making them feel.

It is horrible outside…went to the gym and my throat is scratchy and I feel lightheaded,” wrote S.G.

Burning eyes, lung and throat irritations along with coughing and wheezing are common symptoms of people suffering from the negative health impacts of wildfires according to The World Health Organization.

Early Tuesday morning new Mayor Brandon Johnson issued a press release warning residents of the harmful conditions and how to remain safe. The press release invites residents to wear masks, move activities indoors and to seek medical attention if in respiratory distress. However, it stopped short of encouraging residents to utilize the city services considering the extreme and harmful environmental conditions.

Extreme heat and cold opens the city’s six community service centers and can be found on the chicago.gov website and are activated when the City's emergency response plan is in place or as conditions warrant,” says the Chicago.gov website. Today those conditions were met.  The 311 operators shared that residents are welcome to call the service centers to see if they are open overnight if conditions are not relieved. Other places that are accessible are the senior centers, Chicago Public Libraries and Chicago Park District Cultural Centers during hours of operation.

While the wildfires are an inconvenience to some, they are deadly to others. As summer heats up our relationship to the environment will shift. Illinois is already in a poor predicament itself with drought conditions threatening crop yields of Illinois farmers in central and down state while forcing some municipalities in Cook County to serve water conservation notices during this dry season.

Below is a list of the community service centers if you need a safe place to shelter from the air:

Englewood Center
1140 W. 79th Street
Chicago, IL 60621

Garfield Community Service Center
10 South Kedzie Avenue, Chicago, IL 60612

Dr. Martin Luther King Community Service Center
4314 South Cottage Grove, Chicago, IL 60653

North Area Community Service Center
845 West Wilson Avenue, Chicago, IL 60640

South Chicago Community Service Center
8650 South Commercial Avenue, Chicago, IL 60617

Trina Davila Community Service Center
4312 West North Avenue, Chicago, IL 60639

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About Author:

Dr. Mila Marshall is an environmental professional and journalist with a passion for advancing sustainability in all sectors. Her passion is directed towards urban food systems in segregated cities.



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