[Excerpt] At the last community meeting, attendants filled out a survey about their shopping habits and needs. The survey also circulated in neighborhoods and on the web. More than 2,000 people have responded so far.
Mark Abraham (pictured), executive director of Data Haven, helped design and administer the survey. He said that the data corresponded to a “representative sample of neighborhoods” from around New Haven. The results helped bolster what activists have been trying to show—that Shaw’s was a vital source of food for a variety of people.
Only 6 percent of respondents said that the store was inconvenient—evidence of the location’s retail potential, Abraham said.
The survey highlighted a lingering need. Many former Shaw’s customers said that they will now shop at either Stop & Shop, Edge of the Woods, mini-marts, or other grocers. But 622 people reported that they are either unsure where they will shop or will shop “nowhere.”
Abraham cited this figure as evidence of a “huge displaced shoppers gap.” Displaced shoppers are those who lack the transportation to easily access other stores. Many people will be forced to “eat out of their freezer,” he said.
Alderman Paca said he is working with the NAACP to develop an “in-the-meantime-plan” to help this population get by. Options being considered include: Making a coordinated effort to bulk order food, providing internet access so people can order food from delivery services like PeaPod, and organizing a shuttle service from New Haven to Stop & Shop supermarkets.
Stop & Shop has locations on Amity Road and on Dixwell Avenue in Hamden.
Paca said he has driven several neighbors to buy food, “mostly elderly and disabled” people who have no other way to get there now. He said he doesn’t “want to see people starve.”
Paca said that the community needs to “leverage partnerships” with the wide range of organizations and institutions—from Yale Law School to the Whalley Avenue Special Services District—that have united around the cause of finding a new grocery store.
State Rep. Dillon suggested that another influential partner be added to the list: the state.
“It took money to bring [Shaw’s] here the first time. It’s going to take money to bring [a grocery store] here again,” Dillon said. The state was instrumental in providing the funding to entice Shaw’s to Whalley Avenue back in 1998, according to Dillon.
She said that the city is in a position to get funding for a new supermarket campaign now more than ever, given the Obama administration’s support for healthy eating.
Forty-Five percent of survey respondents said that a replacement supermarket should offer a large selection of high quality goods, like organics, local foods, international foods, and fresh meat and fish.