ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — A new grocery store has inked a December opening in Albany’s South End food desert. The shop will be built where a McDonald’s once stood, feeding groceries into a largely impoverished area.
The South End’s Rite Aid pharmacy permanently closed in 2018, despite several attempts to save it. The shop had offered several amenities to the community, which is comprised of mostly low-income residents, including elders and people of color. It was the only real resource for bread, milk, and other necessities in the area.
Officials justified shuttering Rite Aid because the chain was bought by Walgreens, which already operated a store nearby. Nearby on a map, that is—the shop was a one-mile walk for South End residents.
To make matters worse, in December 2019, a McDonald’s several doors down closed its doors for good. By spring 2021, plans were in the works to bring a full-service grocery store to the old McDonald’s site, at 106 South Pearl Street. Now, one year after successfully purchasing the site, the store is eyeing a December opening.
“We are excited to present our solution to Albany’s South End food desert,” said Travon Jackson, Executive Director of the African American Cultural Center of the Capital Region, which owns the store. “With the help of our partners, BlueLight has successfully set forth the first charitable partnership of its type in Albany– a black-owned, farm-to-store fresh grocery subsidized by syndicated philanthropy. Thank you to CAPCOM, BlueLight’s endowment partners, and all our supporters for bringing us this far.”
Jackson said the grocery store will stock fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, dairy, gluten-free and vegetarian products, kitchen supplies, and hygiene essentials. Educational programs will also be provided and the site will offer a variety of public health outreach and pharmaceutical needs in collaboration with the county.
“We look forward to feeding Albany for years to come,” continued Jackson. “Thank you for keeping the faith!”