New Rock Island Save More clears out one food desert, but many remain

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It’s about to get easier for one Rock Island neighborhood to keep their kitchens stocked with fresh fruits and vegetables.

Save More will open Wednesday morning on 7th Avenue in the old Save-A-Lot spot. 

Neighbors have been essentially in a food desert since December when Save-A-Lot closed.

New store owner Jesse Singh said he’s happy to bring jobs and fresh food to the community.

“I’m here to support the community and Rock Island is a good thing because I love Rock Island,” Singh said. “I grew up all my life here and, you know, Rock Island gave us a lot of things.”

But there are still several neighborhoods without a grocery store. There’s at least 33 square miles in the Quad Cities where people cannot easily access fresh food, according to data from the QC Food Rescue Partnership

“There’s always gaps,” said Food Rescue Partnership Board Chair Pete Vogel. 

A food desert is an area in a community that does not have access to nutritious food, Vogel said.

“It’s a problem,” he said. “We live in the bread basket of the world and the idea that even here in our community one out of eight people, one out of five children is food insecure, it’s almost beyond out understanding.”

Where the deserts are is constantly changing. 

“Save-A-Lot is an excellent and unfortunate example of how we create food deserts,” Vogel said.

Vogel said they tend to pop up in areas outside of downtowns and in areas with lower income.

“People are just much less healthy when they don’t get access to not just enough food, but the right kind of food,” he said.

The right kind of food means fresh food. We spoke with an East Molina teen who said it’s getting harder for her family to find.

“We used to have a garden at my grandma’s in Port Byron and it was a lot easier to get fresh produce there,” said 15-year-old Leah Carter.

But now the garden is gone and they have to rely on stores.

“So it’s gotten a lot harder,” Carter said. 

Singh said he’s planning on opening more stores. One coming to Milan in June and he told Local 4 News more Quad Cities locations are in the works.

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