South Springfield now a food desert with Kroger closing, health district says

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

South Springfield now a food desert with Kroger closing

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

The Kroger grocery store on South Limestone Street in Springfield will close its doors next month, according to a statement from the company.

The store, which is located at 1822 S. Limestone St., will close on Tuesday, March 4, as part of the company’s Restock Kroger plan, the company said in a statement on Friday.

“As part of the Restock Kroger plan, the company will utilize more of its capital to fund technology and infrastructure upgrades to provide its customers with a seamless shopping experience by accelerating digital growth in the region,” the statement said.

The chain announced the Restock Kroger initiative in 2017, which included plans to roll out more programs like ClickList and its Scan, Bag, Go program to more stores. ClickList allows customers to order groceries online and pick them up at a local store, while Scan, Bag, Go allows customers to scan items as they shop through the store, Kroger’s website says.

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Kroger currently employs 69 associates at their South Limestone location, the statement said.

“All associates will be given the opportunity to transfer to another location,” the statement said.

Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland said in a statement on Friday that the city is, “sorely disappointed,” with Kroger’s decision to the close the store.

“We in Springfield City Government are sorely disappointed that Kroger has made the unfortunate decision to withdraw from our community that has so loyally patronized its services,” Copeland said. “In my conversations with Kroger officials about improving the store, they always assured me that they at least had no plans to close this store.”

Copeland said closure of the store will affect an area of Springfield that already has limited options for grocery needs.

“We are extremely mindful of the void that this will create for area residents who already find retail options in their neighborhoods to be limited,” Copeland’s statement said. “We are currently reaching out to community stakeholders and organizations to discuss options in the wake of the Kroger Company’s regrettable decision.”

The Clark County Combined Health District issues a statement on Friday that said with the Kroger location closing, neighborhoods south of downtown Springfield will be considered food deserts.

“Food deserts are defined as geographical areas devoid of fresh fruit, vegetables and other healthy foods,” the statement said. “One of the barriers for people pursuing a healthy diet is a lack of access to high-quality, nutritious food. Individuals who cannot access full-service grocery stores are more likely to purchase food from convenience stores, where fresh produce and other healthy foods may be of limited quantity and low quality, if not entirely absent.”

The CCCHD’s statement said the south side of Springfield has the fewest stores with fresh produce, processed produce or the ability to accept food assistance programs like EBT or WIC.

“These factors qualify this area as a food desert. The unfortunate closing of the Kroger grocery store on South Limestone only compounds this issue,” the statement said.

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Kali Lawrence, executive director of the Springfield Promise Neighborhood and south side of Springfield resident, said she was heartbroken and extremely disappointed to hear “that Kroger is choosing profits and money over the community.”

“This store is more of a community store than anywhere else in Springfield. Yesterday I saw the store manager walk someone to their car. You don’t see that anywhere else. This is how it is here. This is where people go on a daily basis,” Lawrence said.

Lawrence said as executive director of the Springfield Promise Neighborhood she works with schools, like Lincoln Elementary School, to start community gardens as a source of fresh produce in the community.

“Those community gardens are resources for the public, partly because Kroger was the only source for that kind of stuff,” Lawrence said. “The loss of (Kroger) to this community is going to be felt and it’s going to be felt very seriously for years to come.”

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After the South Limestone location closes, Springfield will have three Kroger locations. The grocery stores are located at; 965 N. Bechtle Ave., 2728 E. Main St. and 2989 Derr Rd. The chain closed its location at 2300 N. Limestone St. store in August of 2018.

32: Days until the Kroger located at 1822 S. Limestone St. closes

69: Associates currently employed at the Kroger

3: Kroger locations will remain in Springfield after the store closes

The Springfield News-Sun is committed to covering business developments in Clark and Champaign County.