SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Quality and convenience. Two things West Savannah residents want in their long-awaited grocery store.
They met with city leaders Monday to see what's being done to address what they call the "food desert." Some left happy, others, not so much.
The message from residents tonight was three-fold: they need a grocery store. They want a grocery store. They deserve a grocery store.
Nearly 100 people filled the Moses Jackson Community Center with a single, unified, message.
"We should be able to go to a store and spend our money and get quality meats, fruits, and vegetables."
This group is just a small part of the Savannah population stuck with no viable grocery store option within one mile—referred to as a food desert.
"Savannah is way better than this. We have a couple of them throughout the city, and our goal is to be able to eradicate them so our citizens, our elderly, don't have to go all across town just to get food," said Alderman Van Johnson.
District 1 Alderman Van Johnson met us at an empty land on Bay Street near the Sustainable Fellwood housing. The goal—to land a grocery store and shopping mall here—possibly by the end of the year.
"This becomes prime property for that," said Alderman Johnson.
The next step is this meeting. Johnson wanted them to know the city is working.
Local businessman Sylvester Formey outlined his plans for a Save-A-Lot. He's fronting almost $2 million out of his own pocket. Some, though, not happy with the price-quality conversation.
"So should we trade off price for quality? And that's a question that didn't get answered here tonight," said resident Bernetta Lanier.
Lanier said the meeting focused more on their needs and not how the city was helping them.
"We didn't spend enough time on the Q and A. There are so many unanswered questions leaving out of here tonight," said Lanier.
Others felt the meeting was a great success. Alderman Johnson wants to make it clear—the city is doing its best to help.
"We're not in the grocery store business. However, I think because it affects everything we do, we have to be a major player to help make it happen," said Johnson.
Most left here thankful that at least there is a serious conversation going on here for the first time in years.
The city wants to eliminate all food deserts by 2018. Alderman Johnson said other grocery stores are in talks with the city.
None of them felt confident enough to make a presentation Monday. The city would benefit from this by getting tax dollars from that land—money they don't currently get from the HUD-owned property.