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Local organizations, activists fill food void left by shuttered grocery store

Posted at 1:33 PM, Jun 27, 2020

NORFOLK, Va. - On Saturday, local organizations such as the St. Paul's Community Development Corporation gave away boxes of donated food to struggling residents, most of whom are low-income, in the St. Paul's section of Norfolk.

"Food For The People" was held to help the community after the Save-A-Lot grocery store closed a week ago.

"They closed in a community that desperately needs access to fresh foods and vegetables and things of that nature," Lavonne Pledger, one of the volunteers and an activist, said.

The store was located in a shopping center near the corner of Brambleton Avenue and Church Street. The store's closure caused a "food desert," a term given to a community that does not have access to affordable and nutritious food, and where the next closest grocery store may be miles away and inaccessible for residents.

The next closest grocery store to St. Paul's is about 2 miles away.

"I'm a community member here at St. Paul's and we just said, 'We have to do something,'" Pledger said. "We have to help our fellow neighbors."

The volunteers, which also included members of the Norfolk Police Department, sorted the food and helped carry those boxes to someone's car or their home.

"We see the disparity as far as access in the community," Pledger said. "I walked up on the scene and there was someone who was like, 'I've been here since 6,' you know, waiting."

One of those people that waited included Christopher Brooks. He said he used to shop at the Save-A-Lot.

"I was devastated, man! You know what I mean? They had good prices on decent things," Brooks told News 3. "You have to pay to get back and forth to the Walmart, something like that. The Walmart, that's probably the next closest one."

He walked to the giveaway and was able to walk away with a box of food.

"I think it's a blessing! It's a blessing," Brooks said. "It's a blessing and I appreciate it very much."

There will be another giveaway Saturday, July 4 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Organizers are looking for volunteers and any donations that can be made.

Anyone interested in participating can do so by signing up here. Donations, such as food, can be given through the Foodbank of Southeastern Virginia and The Eastern Shore or Solid Rock Worldwide Outreach Church in Chesapeake.

More information can be obtained by emailing FoodForThePeopleNFK@gmail.com or by calling (757) 354-1667.