Northeast Oklahoma’s grocery situation is something you call a food desert.
Where there used to be Northeast Oklahoma City’s only grocery supplier now sits an empty building along side an empty parking lot, putting the northeast area in a tough situation.
With Smart Saver closing its doors, people of the community are turning towards places like Family Dollar, corner store markets and even fast food.
“For people who have three kids and you know a husband or a wife etc., like that is going to be costly every single day that they do go to fast food, or even to Dollar General,” says Northeast Oklahoma City resident Victor Nep. “Just all the smaller like, I do not want to say grocery stores but corner markets.”
Homeland announced that it will be opening a new location at the corner of 36th and Lincoln, giving hope to those in northeast OKC.
Having access to nutritional products such as fresh produce and meat is something Homeland President Marc Jones believes in.
“Having a supermarket, having a grocery store in your community is a huge deal,” says Jones. “You know, as much as I respect some of our competitors in the dollar channel, Dollar General and Dollar Tree, you are not going to find a whole bunch of fresh produce in those stores.”
Jones believes this location makes perfect sense for Homeland and people of the community.
“Across northeast Oklahoma there are all sorts of available sites, but do they have the foot traffic or vehicle traffic to support a supermarket, and we think we have found that at 36th and Lincoln between all the commuters as well as the neighborhood traffic,” says Jones.
In the mean time, Embark announced it will run shuttles to and from grocery stores outside the northeast Oklahoma City area.
For some like Nep, this is not much of a solution to the people in his community.
“I do not think it’s going to help because the shuttle would always be on,” says Nep. “It would be like a scheduled thing, like you would have to adjust all your timing and stuff like that, and sometimes things happen throughout the day where if you needed groceries but something delayed it.”
Homeland is aiming to open their northeast location by late 2020, but with contracts and delays the community can expect early 2021.
Until then, Northeast Oklahoma City is going to have to rely on the shuttles and the sources they have now.
Embark’s shuttle service will be available Mondays, Wednesdays, Thurdays and Saturdays with pick up times being at 10 a.m., 11 a.m. and noon.
People can visit Embark’s website for more information on the shuttles.