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Old Newsstands Are The New Food Carts

By Melissa Wiley in Food on Aug 21, 2014 7:00PM

The decline of newspapers is old news. The only novelty is stocking empty newsstands with locally grown food. The city’s first e.a.t. spot took up residence in a 45-square-foot otherwise obsolete newsstand Monday at 368 W. Madison, just south of the Lyric Opera, with a second to follow in coming weeks at 151 W. Van Buren.

The latest Loop lunch option also acts as a social enterprise. The nonprofit e.a.t. spots (education, agriculture, technology) operates these compact eateries in partnership with StreetWise and Irv and Shelly’s Fresh Picks, a health food delivery service. The kiosks mark the first recipients of the city’s Emerging Business Permit, introduced in 2012 by way of inciting innovation through business license reform.

Chef Shaw Lash, a Frontera Grill alum, developed the menu, which sources extensively from local farms, including Nichols Farm and Three Sisters Garden. Wraps will initially include a tofu scramble, Thai chicken and black bean costing $6 to $7, while veggie-heavy sides like Asian kale salad, roasted beets and pickled shiitake mushrooms will cost $4. The menu is projected to change quarterly with the seasons.

Ken Waagner, e.a.t.’s founder, told DNAInfo Chicago the food stands will provide up to 18 jobs for those who have undergone training with StreetWise and Fresh Picks and remain at risk of homelessness. StreetWise recently introduced fresh fruit carts into the city’s many food deserts via its Neighbor Cart program, and Executive Director Jim LoBianco views the e.a.t. spots as an extension of the workforce development agency’s foray into affordable, healthy food.