Community rallies together to try to keep ALDI from leaving a food desert in Dayton

Community rallies together to try to keep ALDI from leaving a food desert in Dayton (WKEF/WRGT)

DAYTON, Ohio (WKEF/WRGT) - Residents are rallying to stop a grocery store from leaving Dayton's west side.

ALDI in Westown Shopping Center announced they will close that store location.

Residents told FOX 45 if they do, it will make their food desert problem even worse.

"Why would they close this store?" said Barbara Hayden, who was shopping at ALDI Friday night, "This is almost the only store we have on the west side."

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley announced the closure December 1, along with her disappointment.

She cited the store's failure to work with the city to address concerns, and told FOX 45 the store representative told her they were leaving because there weren't enough shoppers.

On a Friday evening when FOX 45 went to talk to shoppers, foot traffic to the store was flowing busily.

"We do know that companies do look at a bottom line but they have to have an idea of social justice," Dr. Chad White, Senior Pastor at Mt. Carmel Missionary Baptist Church in Dayton said, "and realize that the bottom line is not the only thing that should be looked at, there has to be an ethic that we care about each other."

Dr. White organized a community meeting Friday night to turn community anger into a way to focus on ways to fix the West Side food desert.

"It's a major problem, the lack of food. The lack of fresh food is a problem that creates other problems," Dr. White said.

"Particularly when you look at weather like this and you look at snow that's on the way, to think that someone actually have to catch the bus to go to the grocery store," he continued.

At the meeting, speakers suggested ideas such as soliciting another store to fill the void, finding an independent owner to operate a grocery, and finding the right leadership to find funds to support feeding the community.

"The hardest hit segment of society are the seniors and the babies," Dr. White said.

"There are people around here who have children to feed," said Hayden outside the Aldi store, "And they need to be able to feed them for the best bang for their dollar."

Dr. White said they would be taking ideas from Friday night's meeting to city leaders.

ALDI released a statement to FOX 45 when news of the closure broke, but has not commented since.

No date has officially been announced for the closure, but Mayor Whaley fold FOX 45 she was informed it may be as soon as April 2018.

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