It’s a Thursday, not a Sunday, but the First Baptist Church in East Chicago is open for business. The president of the state’s NAACP is hauling in large cardboard boxes of nectarines. The fruit is placed beside milk crates full of cucumbers and apples. The effect is similar to a booth at a farmer’s market, except the produce doesn’t have prices on it. It’s here for the taking.
The spread is part of a community effort organized by the NAACP. The vitamins found in fresh produce protect people from some of the harmful health effects of lead.
The West Calumet neighborhood in East Chicago, Ind. is a federally designated clean-up site — a Superfund. Its soil contains lead and arsenic at levels that, residents recently learned, are much worse than expected.
Now, hundreds of families have been told to find new homes by November. But many residents — and their lawyers — say they can't move that fast without more help.