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Why can’t a Whole Foods or Trader Joe's turn a profit in traditionally under-served areas? If they build the markets, will the customers come?
It started with the infamous white flight of the 60’s & 70’s— as the affluent fled the inner cities and headed for the suburbs of Los Angeles, the supermarkets went with them. After the 1992 riots, the city government made it a priority to bring full-service grocery stores back to South & East L.A. neighborhoods. While there were some successes, most of the stores that did open up after the riot closed soon thereafter. Now in South L.A., there are 60 full-service grocery stores serving an average population of 22,156 residents per store in contrast to the 57 stores in West LA that serve only 11,150 residents on average. While the disparity in access to healthy food is undeniable, the potential solutions are more debatable— how can the city, and the residents of South & East L.A., attract grocery store chains? Why can’t a Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s turn a profit in traditionally under-served areas? If they build the markets, will the customers come?
Elliott Petty, Director of Grocery & Retail Projects, Alliance for Healthy and Responsible Grocery Stores, Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE)
Councilmember Ed Reyes, Los Angeles City Councilman Representing Council District 1, chair of the City's Planning and Land Use Management
Matthew Dodson, Director of Local Government Relations for the California Grocers Association
Lark Galloway-Gilliam, Executive Director, Community Health Councils