Long-awaited grocery store changes neighborhood

December 2, 2011 10:37:50 AM PST
An oasis in the food desert -- a much need grocery store opened its doors Friday morning in a north Houston area that was in desperate need of access to nutritious food.

It's located at North Shepherd and Victory, one of several areas in Houston that have been identified as food deserts -- neighborhoods without enough access to grocery stores.

More than 200 people showed up for the store opening Friday morning. Acres Homes is labeled one of the largest food deserts in Houston, so residents say they welcome what they are calling a more nutritional, affordable and convenient change.

Sure, the brand-new store with brand-new everything is a plus, but for shopper Teresa Love, it's about more than all of that.

"I just couldn't believe it. It was like walking in someone's garden," she raved. "The greens were beautiful! I mean, everything, from the okra to the squash? I just never seen so much freshness like this."

Love, like other Acres Homes residents, lives in what has been labeled a food desert, an area of the city without enough access to grocery stores. It's a problem that's not just isolated to Love's area. A recent survey by a nonprofit organization focusing on healthy eating found Houston has 185 fewer grocery stores per capita than the national average.

HEB says this Joe V's Smart Shop is one step in changing that in this community.

Armando Perez with HEB explained, "This is an area that we wanted to be in for a while. We are excited about offering the prices that Joe V's offers, and also the high quality produce and meat."

For residents, the fresh, nutritional foods and convenience haven't gone unnoticed.

"Great, great because everything is cheaper here and everything is great quality of food," said shopper Delores Field.

Another added, "I think it's wonderful. I think it's long overdue. I think it's what the community needs and it has brought jobs."

"For this area it's great because you are on a bus line and I'm a block away so I could walk here if I wanted to. So I think it's great," Love said. "I think the neighborhood needed this."

Houston is trying to bring in more companies like Joe V's to help under-served communities, by offering tax break incentives.

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