A New Grocery Store Arrives in the Watts ‘Food Desert’

The Smart and Final location is the first to open in one underserved part of Watts since 1992

The residents of Watts have lacked decent grocery store options for years–but that changed this week, when a Smart and Final opened up in the new Jordan Downs Plaza across the street from the Jordan Downs Housing complex.

The area of Watts is classified as an “urban food desert” by the U.S. Department of Agriculture because at least 100 households are more than half a mile away from the nearest supermarket and have no vehicle access. Grocery stores in food deserts are typically small, and lack selections of fresh meat, fish, poultry, and produce. The USDA has identified 150 food deserts in Los Angeles County.

“It’ll be a plus for the community,” Derrick Harrington, who lives across the street, tells ABC7. “It’ll help, especially for me. I have six kids so for me to be able to walk right here and get something fresh and bring it back to the house it’ll be no problem. I don’t have to waste gas to go further than what I should be.”

Another neighbor, Gisela Yanez, says other local stores have left a bad taste in her mouth, so she looks forward to the new addition. “I want the best for my kids, I want the best vegetables, and the meat to be good, in good condition because I have bad experience in other stores.”

Alvo Duran, a manager at the new supermarket, says, “It’s a great opportunity for Smart and Final to be able to commit to our community in the Watts area and be able to bring a brand new store to this location that hasn’t had a grocery to be able to cater to them.”

RELATED: Why a Small South L.A. Market’s Fresh-Food Facelift Is a Big Deal

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