Fresh & Easy leaves out local community

At some point, we have all made the unbearable trek from Superior Grocers to our place of residence. As a resident of Cardinal Gardens, I make this trek frequently, and I admit I’ve cursed the distance and wished for either a car or more hands many times.

But there is something special about Superior. As a Spanish speaker, I find it a common ground, an intersection of cultures in one area.

When I learned Superior would inevitably be torn down to accommodate the new development plans for The Village at USC, I felt saddened and already nostalgic at the thought of losing this cultural gem.

My despondency grew when I learned there was going to be a Fresh & Easy built — all the way on Figueroa Street at University Gateway. The soon-to-be Fresh & Easy is a positive addition to USC, but not to the greater community.

Though the main focus of new university developments should partially be to students, the community at large should be considered heavily. In the case of Fresh & Easy, it was not.

Ralphs was recently involved in a lawsuit with the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office for 27 counts of overcharging customers for food.

It was also cited for similar violations in 2008 and 2009 and paid nearly $17,000 in fines.

So, Ralphs isn’t necessarily an affordable option.

Fresh & Easy might be less expensive, but are we willing to sacrifice serving the community for lower prices?

Our community is comprised of a large Latino demographic. Within that demographic are high rates of poverty. People in poverty might resort to either coupons, personal checks, The Women, Infants and Children’s Program, food stamps or EBT to pay for their groceries. Fresh & Easy, according to Poor magazine, doesn’t “take coupons, personal checks or WIC — and like their Whole Paycheck counterparts, they don’t hire union employees, or ultimately many employees at all, as they have the new self-pay check-out stands.”

So the argument that Fresh & Easy will create jobs is negated. The argument that Fresh & Easy will be better for the community is incorrect. It won’t be, since many members of the community won’t be able to use their resources in this market.

I’m all for low prices and convenience for students. But at the same time, we can’t forget about the community at large. Community residents are a part of this city and institution just as much as students are, so it’s unfair to leave them out when making new plans for supermarkets. After Superior is torn down, they won’t have many options.

An alternative would be to petition that Fresh & Easy permit the usage of coupons, personal checks and WIC to make sure both students and the community are served.


Mellissa Linton is a sophomore majoring in English. Her counterpoint ran Fridays. 

12 replies
  1. Good Lord
    Good Lord says:

    First of all, “the unbearable trek”? Come on, it’s just across the street! If someone said that coming from Parkside, that would be understandable, but I make that “trek” (if you can call it that) quite frequently from CarGar and it’s not bad at all for the average grocery trip.

    You know, I had my doubts about Superior at first. But this year, I have grown to love them. Do they have everything? No, but they have pretty much anything a college student needs. They also have a great Mexican bakery in the store that sells delicious pastries for a steal. And as far as quality, I haven’t had any issues with produce and what not.

    And the people saying the community around ‘SC is terrible, welcome to L.A. Big cities have crime. There are great places like La Barca and La Paloma that are a testament to the culture around us, and frankly, saying the community sucks is extremely disrespectful to the people that live here.

    And students wonder why USC is called “University of Spoiled Children.” Quit focusing on the negatives and enjoy the positives.

  2. Jack
    Jack says:

    “Let me be blunt: the community here sucks” Agreed, fully. The surrounding community contributes little but crime and disorder and detracts from the USC experience. I wish I were going to be here to see the day when the university finishes buying up the surrounding area and pushes the ghetto far, far away. On that day, the streets will be significantly safer, students won’t have to worry about getting mugged, and USC will be a far better school.

    To Ms. Linton: Do you read the emails DPS sends out notifying us about all the crimes that occur around campus? That is the “community” you are trying to defend. It is crime-ridden and cancerous, and we should do everything in our power to drive it away.

    Superior is a cesspool. It serves substandard, disgusting groceries. It is emblematic of the neighborhood surrounding USC. Tearing it down is the first step toward pushing that neighborhood away, and building a stronger, better Trojan community.

  3. Sc grad 11
    Sc grad 11 says:

    Thank god! Superior is awful. I’m all for affordable healthy food – its not like they are putting in a whole foods or Bristol farms…. I would love to see all of UV redone ~ it’s dead and a revamp would boost the local economy.

  4. North University Park
    North University Park says:

    Both Superior and Fresh and Easy are check yourself out and bag your own.

    They won’t be getting my business.

  5. USC alum
    USC alum says:

    Seeing as how WIC is yet another government welfare wealth redistribution program funded on the backs of taxpayers, perhaps the author and others of her persuasion should voluntarily resdistribute their own wealth to the local community — that way, the impoverished locals can spend the donated cash they receive, avoiding the complications with WIC. Problem solved.

  6. Anon
    Anon says:

    Good. Superior is a total dump that overcharges for substandard groceries. I welcome the addition of Fresh&Easy to University Gateway, as should anyone with half a brain.

    And by the way – Fresh&Easy started accepting WIC vouchers more than 18 months ago. Maybe you should do a little research before writing this NIMBY garbage.

  7. Isabella
    Isabella says:

    You don’t want to shop at Fresh and Easy–shop somewhere else.

    There are plently of small grocery stores in the area that cater to the local spanish speaking community. Enjoy!

    On the other hand, for those of us that want to shop at Fresh and Easy–we are entitled.

    Lastly, we could leave the neighborhood as is or we could improve it. I guess you prefer the former.

  8. Rob
    Rob says:

    Hey Mellissa check out this Fresh & Easy Buzz blog for a bunch of information about Fresh & Easy not taking WIC, coupons and so on. Think it’s where the magazine you mention got it. They talk about how because Fresh & Easy is losing money, taking WIC and coupons would actually be a benefit for its business. It tsays they take WIC at the store in south LA. They have a hard time accepting them and the coupons because have self-service checkout.

  9. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Let me be blunt: the community here sucks. I would much rather be someplace else. If they want to shop in dirty, old stores that don’t carry normal items that I value (e.g., Superior), then they should be able to. But my ability to purchase quality food should not be relegated for their benefit.

    Superior is terrible and deserves to go. If you feel good about being able to speak Spanish in a grocery store, maybe you should get your priorities in order.

  10. Alan
    Alan says:

    i disagree. There is a Fresh & Easy at 1025 E Adams Blvd. And they have been working hard to sell to the local community, which is probably more Latino then the local community around USC.

  11. Roxy
    Roxy says:

    Thank God! Let us just be real here; the surrounding community was nothing to brag about. I am glad they are tearing down Superior. It was a cesspool when I was going to school at USC.

  12. Tom
    Tom says:

    Superior was told that the UV was going to be torn down 3 or 4 years ago when Gateway was under construction and was given first choice to move there during construction and said no. If you look at the plans for the Village it does include a new grocery store, which will probably be superior.

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