Berkley Supermarket grand opening brings new promise for community left in food desert

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Posted at 5:19 AM, Sep 10, 2021

NORFOLK, Va.— The Berkley Supermarket was given a warm welcome from the community Thursday as it celebrated its grand opening.

Healthy food is now only footsteps away for Dernice Scott, who just moved into the Berkley neighborhood.

“I don’t have to worry about riding a bus all the way across town just to go to the grocery store,” she said. “So now, that’s a blessing because it saves me that $4 and I can spend it somewhere else because I’m on a fixed income.”

The grocery store is located on Berkley Avenue in a majority Black community that's home to many low-income families and seniors who were left in a food desert after the Farm Fresh that previously occupied the space closed in 2018.

“This is a very proud community. This community will patronize the grocery store, but not only Berkeley, but Campostella and South Norfolk,” said Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander.

The City of Norfolk invested $900,000 in grants and loans to give residents the access to the fresh foods they deserve.

The Berkley Supermarket is giving new hope to people like Roderick Perkins, who had to travel more than two miles to Portsmouth or Chesapeake to get the same food he’s shopping for now.

“People that don’t have transportation, they have to deal with going out of the way to get where they need to get to,” he explained.

A grocery store baring the name of the neighborhood, the Berkley Supermarket is for the people and by the people.

“We wanted the community to feel like they are a part, that we're giving them something by naming it Berkley because this is the community of Berkley, so we wanted to make it more personable,” said owner Jacqueline Palmer.

The supermarket is a family affair for Jacqueline and Michael Palmer. The husband and wife team live in Chesapeake and have three of their children helping run the store.

The pandemic created its own set of challenges for the supermarket, but perseverance and pride is what Berkley is made of.