LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Another grocery store in Lake Charles has shut its doors.
It’s been nearly two weeks since the doors were locked and the shelves fully cleared at the Save-a-Lot on Highway 14. However, a bigger question remains. Why are these stores closing? How does that contribute to the overall health of the communities they serve?
“This one little simple store can have a major impact on the other facilities in this whole little plaza,” said resident Glenn King. “It’s affecting the community here and the guys within this little central area and health...”
Residents like King say there’s a lack of healthy food options in parts of Lake Charles and with this recent closure, the problem is only getting worse.
“If we look at City of Lake Charles data, our limited access to healthy food overlaps our obesity prevalence, our hypertension prevalence, our diabetes prevalence and our access to exercise mapping,” said Brian Burton, MPH--CEO, SWLA Area Health Education Center.
Within the last several years, at least five grocery stores have ended operations in the Lake Area. There are other options, but for some residents, those options come with a hefty commute.
“Right now most elderly people can’t afford to get in a cab and ride across town to get the things that they need to make them comfortable so they have to go there and settle versus come here and stock up,” King said.
At this time, city officials say the only bid on the table for a new grocery store is a Rouses which will be located in South Lake Charles. As for addressing the vacancy of past grocery stores like Kroger on 12th St., Mcneese St., and now Save-a-Lot. City administrator, John Cardone said although they have no control over what stores decide to come and go, they are looking at ways to better market these spaces.
“Last year we asked the city to pass a resolution that would offer incentives to big box stores that would encourage them to do economic opportunity, diversity... and the buildings have to be at least 10-thousand square feet and vacant for at least 2 years,” Cardone said.
Although hopeful, residents like King feel that it's only a matter of time before things get worse...
“Regardless of what area people are coming from, this is one of the points they’re going to see,” said King. "Until we sit down at the table at the lowest and highest level, this part, unfortunately, is going to fall apart.
Until another grocery store decides to bring business to areas such as North and Central Lake Charles, the city says they are exploring options such as pop-up farmer’s markets.