Walking over a mile for groceries? Some Columbia residents nervous as Save-A-Lot closure approaches

Published: Aug. 22, 2019 at 12:01 AM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Residents in one area of downtown Columbia could soon be living in a food desert after the announcement that the Save-A-Lot on Harden Street would be closing on August 24, 2018.

For context, a food desert is typically defined as an area of 500 or more people in a low-income area that doesn’t have a large grocery store or supermarket within a mile.

“It’s going to be very, very hard,” said Save-A-Lot shopper Mildred Diamond. “There are going to be people that won’t be able to eat sometimes because they don’t have a ride.”

It’s been less than a week since the announcement dropped that the Harden St Save-A-Lot would be closing, and nearly all of the shelves in the store are already cleared.

“I was going in there to see if I could cook dinner, but the shelves are so empty now until there’s nothing left anymore,” said Save-A-Lot shopper Angela Owens.

With the closure of the Save-A-Lot, the next nearest grocery store would be over a mile away for some neighbors in the area. Many of those residents, don’t have transportation.

“All of the other grocery stores are far away and out of this neighborhood,” Owens said. “Elderly people need somewhere to shop.”

Now, the folks who depend on this grocery store are just asking the Columbia community, city leaders, or really anyone who can help, to try and get another affordable grocery store in this location.

“If it’s not Save-A-Lot, it’s going to have to match Save-A-Lot,” Diamond said. “That’s the only way that people who don’t get food stamps can survive.”

There are several groups in the area trying to come up with a temporary solution for neighbors who depend on this store to fill that immediate need.

As for the Foodshare program inside the store that works provide healthy low-cost boxes of fruits and veggies, organizers say they plan to keep working and serving the community, despite the Save-A-Lot closure.

To do that, they’re just looking for a nearby location where they can set up shop for the time being. They need a location with about 4,000-5000 sq ft, an option for refrigeration, and a loading dock.

One resource that can help residents is a rideshare discount offered by COMET called COMET to the Market.

If someone takes an Uber of Lyft to a partnering grocery store, COMET will cover up to $5 of the ride using a promo code.

The code can be used between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. every day, and twice a week per passenger.

Remember a promo code must be entered to receive the discount. Any cost over $5 is the responsibility of the passenger.

Get details on how to use the promo code by clicking or tapping here.

Columbia Housing Authority officials also say that through their Residents Services Program, they also offer transportation to residents who need to make trips to the grocery store.

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