Tornado damages grocer in Dayton, already a food desert

DAYTON — The damage the tornadoes did in Dayton is making the food desert situation worse in the north and east parts of the city.

The tornado that hit a week ago tore through north Dayton and wiped out the neighborhood along Troy Street near Stanley Avenue. Dozens of people lost homes on Kelly Avenue.

Most did their shopping at Grocerylane, 1451 Troy St., with many able to walk there. But other customers drove from nearby neighborhoods. Some have been coming there to shop for groceries after a Food For Less burned down in 2017.

» READ MORE: Demolition of Food for Less store underway following fire

Regular customers are trying to come to grips with the new challenge, living in a city already considered a food desert in parts.

“Where am I going to go now, what are we going to do?” Martina Hall of Dayton said. “We were coming out here now to buy ours and for an elderly neighbor who can’t get out, whose car was destroyed.”

Hall came with her husband and son because Grocerylane is her favorite store.

“Yeah, this is a great loss. They have great bargains for low-income families,” she said.

No one will be able to shop anytime soon at the store with no power, no food and extreme damage to the roof and front entry.

Barbara Delgross said she would need to find a ride to make it to any other grocery store.

It’s a problem that hunger advocates say affects people in east Dayton, where Food For Less burned down last year, and now north Dayton as well as west Dayton. They call these areas food deserts.

“They don’t have access to fresh fruit, they don’t have access to the fresh meats, all the things they need to have a healthy, balanced diet,” Shenise Turner-Sloss, co-founder Neighborhood Over Politics, said.

» RELATED: Dayton among the worst cities for food hardship

She said she hopes the tornado gives the push for everyone to work together to solve this problem.

A church-sponsored group near an American Red Cross shelter was serving 200 fresh meals Wednesday to tornado victims. But hunger advocates, and people isolated from grocery stores, said that’s a short-term measure.

“To lose one more is losing a lot because we’ve actually lived in food deserts not just once but twice,” Hall said.