City of Chicago makes fruitful efforts to eliminate food deserts

By Courtney Dillard 

Click the image above to see how grocery store choices change drastically by neighborhood.
Click the image above to see how grocery store choices change drastically by neighborhood.

Nia Arnold is a guidance clerk at one of Chicago Public Schools’ 11 selective enrollment high schools. The closest grocery store to her school has always been Jewel Osco, nearly three miles away. Two months ago Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market opened about four blocks away.

Before Wal-Mart opened, Arnold’s school was in one of the many food deserts on Chicago’s South Side. She says that even though there are healthy options available in and around the school, students still make unhealthy decisions.

“As soon as the bell rings, kids go to McDonald’s, Golden Fish and Chicken, or White Castle,” Arnold said. “Food desert or not, that’s a choice.”

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Evanston raises age to buy tobacco to 21, but some residents think it’s a drag

By Courtney Dillard

As of Nov. 8, all Evanston businesses must display Tobacco 21 signage.
As of Nov. 8, all Evanston businesses must display Tobacco 21 signage.

Evanston residents under the age of 21 will have to leave their city to buy their cigarettes from now on. Evanston is the first community in Illinois to ban the sale of tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21.

Thirty-four gas stations, convenience stores and drug stores in Evanston must comply with the age limit, which went into effect Nov. 8. Any employees under the age of 21 cannot sell tobacco products. Businesses that violate the law will be subject to fines up to $500.

Continue reading “Evanston raises age to buy tobacco to 21, but some residents think it’s a drag”

Chicago works to close the breast cancer race gap

By Courtney Dillard

Attendees listen to the findings of the study at last week's Beyond October event at the Chicago Urban League.
Attendees listen to the findings of the study at last week’s Beyond October event at the Chicago Urban League.

The mortality gap in breast cancer between black women and white women in Chicago has decreased for the first time in 20 years. Up until 2007 it increased every year.

Now, a new study shows the gap has narrowed significantly. In 2007 black women in Chicago were dying of breast cancer at a rate 62 percent greater than white women. That disparity dropped suddenly to 40 percent between 2008 and 2010, which translates to 25 black women’s lives saved.

“We’ve saved 25 women, 25 mothers and 25 friends,” said Teena Francois-Blue, associate director of community initiative for the Metropolitan Chicago Breast Cancer Task Force.

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U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth wins in 8th congressional district

By Courtney Dillard

Duckworth prepares to speak to her supporters after her win Tuesday night.
Duckworth prepares to speak to her supporters after her win Tuesday night.

Incumbent U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-8th) defeated rival Larry Kaifesh (R) Tuesday night shortly before 11 p.m. It was the only race in this election cycle between two Iraq War veterans.

Duckworth captured 57 percent of the vote, slightly higher than two years ago. In 2012 she defeated incumbent Republican Joe Walsh with 55 percent of the vote.

She promised to keep fighting for military families. “I will continue to be the advocate for our veterans in Congress to achieve good jobs and quality health care,” she said. “I view it as my responsibility to stand up for those whose voices aren’t always heard in the halls of Congress.”

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Gov. Quinn changes mandatory quarantine order to apply ‘high-risk’ individuals

By Courtney Dillard

All individuals deemed "high-risk" who fly through Chicago's O'Hare International Airport must submit to a 21-day mandatory quarantine. Photo courtesy of Mark Brennan.
All individuals deemed “high-risk” who fly through Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport must submit to a 21-day mandatory quarantine. Photo courtesy of Mark Brennan.

Gov. Pat Quinn took last week’s debacle in New Jersey as an opportunity to clarify the state’s new quarantine regulations. Following a backlash from medical professionals toward New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s mandatory quarantine of international medical worker Kaci Hickox, Quinn stated Monday that only individuals deemed “high-risk” would be subject to the a mandatory home quarantine. Originally Quinn said that all individuals who had direct contact with an Ebola patient would be subject to the mandatory quarantine.

Under Quinn’s most recent order, “high-risk” individuals would have to stay at home and receive temperature screenings for 21 days, the duration of the Ebola virus’s incubation period.

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U of C students join South Side community activists in fight for trauma center

Students for Health Equity hold a mock debate to discuss the trauma center campaign.
Students for Health Equity hold a mock debate to discuss the trauma center campaign.

By Courtney Dillard

Community activists have been fighting for the University of Chicago Medical Center to re-open its Level 1 trauma care center for years, but the pressure from U of C students has forced the administration to listen.

Students for Health Equity hosted a teach-in Tuesday on U of C’s campus to answer questions and debunk myths about the trauma center campaign. Group members say their different perspective gives them the ability to effect change.

“The administration listens to us with a different ear,” said Duff Morton, a graduate student and Students for Health Equity member. “When we take risks, the administration overreacts, and it benefits the campaign.”

In January 2013, Toussaint Losier, a University of Chicago Ph.D. student, was arrested during a protest at the university’s Center for Care and Discovery. After Losier’s arrest, Thomas F. Rosenbaum, university provost, sent an email to students promising an open forum for discussion about the trauma center. During that discussion, in May 2013, the medical center’s administration admitted for the first time that the South Side needed a trauma center.

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Ebola screenings begin at O’Hare International Airport

Hazmat suits are necessary for anyone who comes in contact with an Ebola patient. Courtesy of California National Guard
Hazmat suits are necessary for anyone who comes in contact with an Ebola patient. Courtesy of the California National Guard.

By Courtney Dillard

Chicago is hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst as the threat of Ebola looms. Starting Thursday, all travelers from the three “hotspots” in Africa –Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone—will receive screenings at O’Hare International Airport.

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Financial abuse—when domestic violence is more than just physical

Advocates from the Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network passed out information at a recent Domestic Violence Awareness month kick-off rally in downtown Chicago. This October, advocates are highlighting the issue of financial abuse.
Advocates from the Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network passed out information at a recent Domestic Violence Awareness month kick-off rally in downtown Chicago. This October, advocates are highlighting the issue of financial abuse.

By Courtney Dillard

When most people think of domestic violence, they think of physical abuse—black eyes and broken bones. But there is another form of abuse that is more difficult to spot, advocates for battered women say: financial abuse.

“The whole dynamic of an abusive relationship is about power and control, so often it’s economic reasons that keep women with their abusers,” said Hillary Douin, counselor at the Howard Area Community Center in Rogers Park. “They have no housing, employment or resources, so if they leave they would be homeless.”

Continue reading “Financial abuse—when domestic violence is more than just physical”