By Nicole D. Batey,
Special to the AFRO
The Price Rite Marketplace of West Pratt Street has served West Baltimore for 10 years. Now, just days before families are set to gather around the dinner table, Price Rite has announced that it is closing the sliding doors permanently at the end of December.
Price Rite originally opened in 2013 and was rebranded as Price Rite Marketplace in 2019.
The supermarket is located in Southwest Baltimore’s Mount Clare Junction shopping center and is the only full service grocery store in the immediate area. Hollins Market and stores like Family Dollar will be left to fill in the gap.
A food desert is defined by the Baltimore City Health Department as an area in which:
- The distance to a supermarket or supermarket alternative is more than 1/4 mile
- The median household income is at or below 185 percent of the federal poverty level
- Over 30 percent of households have no vehicle available
- The average Healthy Food Availability Index (HFAI) score for all food stores is low
When a district meets all four criteria, it is designated a “healthy food priority area.” The City Council District 10, where the store is located, has the second highest proportion of residents living in a priority area. Roughly 44 percent of the population in this area meet all four criteria for living in a food desert that is a high priority area, compared to 23.5 percent citywide. Nearly 12,000 –52 percent–of the city’s Black residents live in priority areas, compared to only 7,000 (38 percent) of its White residents. Also, seniors are the most likely of any age group to live in priority areas.
There are only four, now soon to be three, supermarkets in the entire district.
“The parents and the older folks are the ones that need this store. If you take it out of the Black community, where are they supposed to go?” asked Angela Baker, who spoke with the AFRO as she exited the store. “I’ve lived in the city all my life and it just seems like it’s getting worse.”
Baker pointed out how access to fresh fruits and vegetables in America is directly linked to other issues like income and transportation.
“Are people supposed to take an Uber? A lot of these folks are on a fixed income—they don’t have money to keep getting Ubers to go to the market,” said Baker. “They should be able to come around the corner and go grocery shopping in their own neighborhood.”
In a written statement, Karen O’Shea, of Wakefern Food Corporation, a retailer-owned cooperative comprised of nearly 50 member companies that includes Price Rite Marketplace and ShopRite, said:
“After 10 years, Price Rite Marketplace of West Pratt Street has made the very difficult decision to close the store next month,” O’Shea stated. “Price Rite appreciates the loyalty of customers who have supported the store through the years and the dedicated team members who have worked hard to serve the community. We are sharing information with our team members regarding potential job opportunities and available positions at other Price Rite Marketplace stores in the region.”
That may be of little consolation to laid off workers and neighborhood shoppers who now have to figure out where they’ll buy fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as other nutritional foods.
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