Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Food Lion Customers Voice Shock, Dismay over Closings; Many Loyal Shoppers Have No Other Grocery Stores near Their Homes

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Food Lion Customers Voice Shock, Dismay over Closings; Many Loyal Shoppers Have No Other Grocery Stores near Their Homes

Article excerpt

Byline: Drew Dixon

Countless thousands of Food Lion grocery store customers will be forced to revise how they shop for food now that the supermarket chain has announced the closing of all its stores in Northeast Florida and South Georgia in about a month.

Many of those customers were stunned as they went to Food Lion stores Thursday, the day after company officials announced the store closures.

"I hate it," said Carl Dillhyon outside the Food Lion on North Main Street in Jacksonville after buying a book of stamps at the store. "I get everything here."

Renee Jones said it seems senseless to close the store on North Main Street.

"They have better sales" than other supermarkets, Jones said. "I just don't know why they need to do this."

Customers at the Food Lion on West Beaver Street have nowhere else near their homes to buy groceries.

Virnece Marden said she lives about a mile from the West Beaver store and the closure is going to cause some hardship when it comes to grocery shopping.

"I don't know what we're going to do," Marden said, adding it would be a longer drive to a Winn-Dixie west of the Food Lion site. "I just don't believe this."

The impact on residential neighborhoods surrounding a grocery store shouldn't be underestimated, said Bruce Ganger, executive director of the Second Harvest North Florida food bank. The absence of a grocery store sometimes creates what's called a "food desert," which affects the most vulnerable people.

"Folks who have issues with transportation may now have to spend more money on transportation that they would have been using to buy food for themselves," Ganger said. "Now, they won't have ready access to that store."

The next closest full-service grocery store from the Food Lion on U.S. 1 outside the Palencia subdivision in St. Johns County is seven miles away.

"It's kind of shocking," Blake Insel said at the Palencia site. "I've used this store for a few years, like ever since it opened. I'm upset to hear it."

In all, 113 Food Lion stores are being closed nationwide because they were "under-performing," according to store officials. …

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