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.