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Former Chicago Bears linebacker, Sam Acho, is launching a platform for citizens to gain access to fresh food and a path to employment.

“In all reality, we know Chicago is our home whether it’s for one year, tens years or a lifetime. We have a responsibility to do something about what we see in our communities. We can’t just hang out in the suburbs and act like things on the South Side and the West Side are getting better when they’re not. We have the opportunity to follow the lead of the youth and make a change.”

– Sam Acho

More than a dozen Chicago athletes aided Acho in raising half a million dollars to transform one of the 17 liquor stores in the area into a grocery store located at 423 N. Laramie Avenue.

Wednesday was the soft opening, but Austin Harvest’s open-air market may have never become a reality if not for a tour of the neighborhood with Azariah Baker, who is one of the individuals involved.

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“You all see this as a field trip. but I live here. People choose to live here and raise their families here. They choose to do it. It’s not a burden. There’s no doubt or anxiety. It’s a choice,” remembered Acho. “For me, seeing people who live here like Azariah, who have made the choice to call this place home and made the choice to make this place better – what is there not to say yes to? Why not be a part of what’s happening in the community?”