Kroger on South Limestone is scheduled to close its doors 8 p.m. Tuesday night.
The grocery chain announced on Jan. 31 that its store on South Limestone will be closed on March 4, as part of the company’s Restock Kroger plan, the company said. However, a sign posted on the store’s front windows now says the store will cease operations on Tuesday at 8 p.m., as most of the shelves have already been cleared out.
In preparation for the closure, Springfield native John Legend announced on Monday that a free shuttle service will begin running after the business closes.
The shuttle service will be run by The Abilities Connection, a Springfield based non-profit organization, and the City of Springfield, Legend said in a video posted by TAC on Monday morning.
In addition to the shuttle service, Legend also announced he will be partnering with city officials to come up with a more permanent solution to the grocery chain closure.“I recently learned that the last remaining grocery store on the south side of Springfield is pulling out of their location, creating a food desert in a part of town where a lot of folks that I know live, including some of my family,” Legend said. “So I am volunteering to work with city officials, like Mayor Warren Copeland and others, to bring a solution.”
Shuttles will begin running on Saturday, March 7, and will pick residents up in what is now the Kroger parking lot, located at 1822 S. Limestone St. Residents will then be driven to the Kroger located at 2728 E. Main St., Legend said.
Hours for the shuttle are: Wednesdays from 4:30 p.m. until 8 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 1 p.m. until 4 p.m. A full schedule of the service can be found on TAC’s website.
THE LATEST KROGER’S CLOSURE: Springfield city, community leaders share details of Kroger deal with residents
Jim Zahora, CEO of TAC, said the non-profit has a fleet of transportation vehicles ready. The vehicles are normally used to transport community members with disabilities throughout the week, Zahora said.
“TAC is honored to partner with the city to serve our community in a time of need,” Zahora said. “We value our social responsibility as good cooperate citizens and strongly believe in community stewardship. This is home for us and we all must work together.”
Funding for transportation will come directly from Kroger — as a part of a deal the city reached with the grocery chain on Feb. 19.
Under the deal, Kroger agreed to: donate the building at 1822 S. Limestone St., and the land, including non-proprietary contents of the facility without restriction on future use, contribute $31,500 to support shuttle services and contribute a minimum of $19,500 to Second Harvest Food Bank to support additional food bank services.
Additional food bank services will be needed as the south side of Springfield has limited options for the resident’s grocery needs. According to the Clark County Combined Health District, neighborhoods south of downtown Springfield will be considered a food desert with the closure — as the closest grocery store is about three miles away.
Food deserts are defined as geographic areas devoid of fresh fruit, vegetables and other health foods, according to the CCCHD.
Second Harvest Food Bank announced last week they will deploy eight mobile food pantries to the south side, beginning on March 5, in an attempt to combat the effects of the closure.
The foodbank’s mobile pantry directly serves clients in rural or outlying areas where transportation may be an issue, according to their website. The pantries distribute nutritious perishable and non-perishable food for free.
Tyra Jackson, executive director of the Second Harvest Food Bank, said the pantries will be disbursed throughout the south side beginning on Thursday.
“We have over 22,000 people in our area alone that do not know where their next meal will come from. So when we look at that, we know the impact the Kroger store leaving will have,” Jackson said.
A mobile pantry will also be stationed in the parking lot of what is now Kroger, every Thursday from 10 a.m. until noon.
Springfield City Manager Bryan Heck said, “a lot” of community organizations, include the food bank and TAC, have stepped up to help the city come up with plans for residents in the days and months following Kroger’s closure.
Heck said the city is working towards “short term solutions and long term solutions,” for Kroger’s closure — although no plans for a grocery store in south Springfield have been announced.
“We want those long term solutions to be sustainable well into the future so that this community can continue to thrive and (south Springfield) can continue to thrive,” Heck said. “We are going to continue looking at all possible options for the community.”
The Springfield News-Sun was the first news source to tell readers about the South Limestone Street closure. Since then, the News-Sun has provided unmatched coverage of how the closure with affect residents of the south Springfield community.
$31,500: Amount Kroger will contribute to support TAC shuttle services
$19,500: Amount Kroger will contribute to Second Harvest Food Bank to support additional food bank services
8: Additional mobile pantries that will be stationed on the south side of Springfield following Kroger’s closure
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