West Savannah residents pushing for more grocery options - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

West Savannah residents pushing for more grocery options

(Source: WTOC) (Source: WTOC)

When it's time to prepare dinner for your family, most of us living in Savannah have a choice of several grocery stores within blocks of our homes.  

Not on Savannah's west side. And those taxpayers are demanding that change.  

City leaders have been trying to tackle this issue for years, but the problem came back to the forefront several weeks ago during a city council meeting, prompting members to assemble a task force and explore options to fix what they call the "food desert".

For some residents, especially those without transportation and on a fixed income, they say they're tired of talking and want action now.

"If we're not going to get these things, then they need to stop taking taxes from us out here. It's just simple," said Jane Dukes.

Living in an area city leaders identify as a food desert is something that brings tears of frustration to Dukes' eyes. A resident of Sustainable Fellwood Phase Three, Dukes relies on Chatham Area Transit's Senior Circulator route, which is a shuttle that serves Fellwood four times a day taking seniors to the Kroger on Gwinnett. It ends around 4 p.m.

"The people in West Savannah, you know, we're no different from any other people. Because we're in low-income housing, or public housing or whatever, that don't give them the right to treat us any differently. We should be treated just like anybody still on the island or anybody else. Because we pay the same taxes," said Ronald Williams.

The president of the West Savannah Community Organization, Williams voiced his frustration with Savannah's elected officials and said he wants to see the city assembled task force come up with a plan soon.

The district's alderman says a grocery store was in the plan for the Sustainable Fellwood complex and adds even though the city can't just put a grocery store there, they can make opening one more attractive for private companies.

Alderman Van Johnson said, "What we can do is try to make the area attractive enough. We can try to advocate for tax credits and other types of funding bases to be able to make that more, again, as we add more people to the chorus of saying this is important, we believe we'll be able to get the assistance we need to help attract someone here."

Acknowledging convenience stores along West Bay Street are important, Johnson says grocery stores carry food options beyond what those businesses can offer.

Johnson said the city is in talks with several grocery chains, but declined to name any of the companies.

The third formal meeting of the task force, made up of residents and business leaders, is expected to happen within the month.

The West Savannah Community Organization president says he's thinking about having residents gather up grocery receipts for a month, to help illustrate how much money folks living in West Savannah are spending at grocery stores outside their neighborhood, to show potential grocery chain suitors how much money would be spent at a new store. 

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