More than two years after a Safeway grocery store closed in an area considered a food desert, Prince George’s County officials celebrated Monday a District market set to take its place.
Good Food Markets of D.C. plans to open a grocery store to sell fresh produce and a café inside a 3,800-square-foot storefront at Addison Plaza in Seat Pleasant, less than a mile from the District border. The new grocer is slated to employ 15 county residents,
“This is meaningful,” County Executive Angela Alsobrooks said at a press conference in the parking lot of the plaza. “It means so much to me and I hope it will mean a lot to this community.”
Alsobrooks said the move comes at an opportune time, with Shoppers Food Warehouse mulling the closure of its Prince George’s locations.
Mark Federici, president of UFCW Local 400, sent a letter dated March 21 to Steven L. Spinner, CEO of United Natural Foods, which purchased Shoppers’ parent company Supervalu last year, to request information on whether stores where members work would be closed.
“Local 400 demands that you provide us with information about these reported store sales immediately,” Federici said in the letter. “Local 400 will not hesitate to exercise its rights under our previous arbitral award and other laws if we are not promptly provided with information sufficient to advise our members. They deserve to know what the future holds.”
A representative from United Natural Foods of Providence, Rhode Island, couldn’t be reached for comment Monday afternoon.
At Monday’s press conference, Alsobrooks said a delay in the project took place in order to ensure more partners in the nearly $2 million project such as the county’s Revenue Authority, FSC First and Seat Pleasant Mayor Eugene Grant.
The project will go on simultaneously with another taking place in southeast D.C., said Good Food Markets co-founder Phil Sambol. He said the store could open in four to six months. The company already has a store in northeast D.C. that opened about five years ago.
“When Safeway left, we started getting calls at our store in Ward 5 … asking if we would come here,” Sambol said. “From that point forward, we’ve been working with [leaders] throughout the region to build a store that would serve the needs of the city of Seat Pleasant and the residents of Prince George’s County.”
Alsbrooks said her administration will continue to purchase decreasing the number of food deserts in the county, which are places without access to produce and other resources more than a mile way. She said 15 percent of the county’s population reside in those areas, which attributes to the highest percentage in the D.C. region.
Additionally, 42 shopping centers are on a revitalization list. Approximately 27 of those are located inside the Beltway, she said.
“We really have work to do to bring more healthier options to our residents,” Alsobrooks said. “We will be making additional announcements about the way we intend to revitalize our shopping centers to ensure we are bringing healthier food options and other resources that each of our communities need.”
Donna Daniel of Capitol Heights attended the press conference and expressed gratitude for a new grocery store moving into the community.
“I made it a point to get up and get out here and [show] that the community really appreciates this effort,” said Daniel, 64. “Literally, I have to think about what I’m going to have for dinner. If I want salmon … I might have to go to Wegmans [at least six miles away in Glenarden] to get a good piece of meat.”