Push to rid Wichita of food deserts

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – There was a lot of excitement Wednesday as a new grocery store opened in south Wichita.

A Save-A-Lot moved in at Harry and Broadway, a location that was once deemed a food desert, for a lack of grocery options.

Customers, like Dean Weakley, were happy to have a new place to shop.

“Glad to see something come back to the neighborhood. It has been a long time,” said Weakley.

Wichita city councilman James Clendenin represents that area.

He says it was more than two years in the making to get another store in that area.

“You know there was a Dillons store that was there, decided it wasn’t within their business model and decided to leave the neighborhood, and that put a whole service gap for people that live there,” said Clendenin.

Clendenin says the Save-A-Lot comes at zero expense to the taxpayers.

This is due to a$ 400,000 dollar community development block grant from the federal government that helped to move the project forward.

However, it is a different scene just across town at 13th and Oliver.

That area that saw both a Walmart Neighborhood Market and Quiktrip leave within a matter of weeks, a year ago.

“If I had my druthers, we would have a store or at least a food distribution area there,” said Lavonta Williams, District 1 city councilwoman.

Williams says she’s been in contact with Save-A-Lot about the potential of setting up shop at 13th and Oliver too.

“We are going to measure the success of the store on the south end of town and see how well it goes and than we are going to go back to the table to see if that is something we are going to accomplish at 13th and Oliver,” said Williams.

Williams says she is looking whether similar grant money is available to help bring a store to that area.

She stress that getting a store at 13th and Oliver is at the top of her to-do list for this year.