INDIANAPOLIS — Easy access to healthy and nutritional food continues to be a problem for many in Indy, and it looks like the problem is getting worse for one neighborhood.
The Dollar General on College Ave. near the intersection with 38th St. is closing it’s doors. A large banner is up on the front of the building saying so.
”I come to this store at least three times a week,” said one shopper who told us his name was Breece.
He said he has lived in the area for about 12 years. He makes so many stops at this Dollar General because there aren’t many other options close by.
”The big stores like Walmart or Kroger are like four or five miles from here,” he said.
The Dollar General provides a lot of basic needs for people but does not have fresh produce, just like the Family Dollar nearby. The Dollar General closing will worsen an area already lacking in groceries.
Matt Nowlin is the Community Analysis Manager at the Polis Center. The Polis Center researches the health and well being of neighborhood.
”According to our estimates, 100 percent of the population that lives there is more than a mile from a full grocery store,” Nowlin said. “So that’s about 1,500, 1,600 folks there that are living in a food desert.”
Nowlin tracks how close people are by car or bus to a full grocery store, one that serves fresh produce like a Kroger or Walmart. Even though the closing Dollar General and nearby Family Dollar aren’t full grocers, Nowlin said they’re still very important.
”It’s important to have those general merchandise stores in the neighborhood,” Nowlin said. “Without having to drive or take the bus a couple miles out to a suburban shopping area and go to a Walmart. You’ve got some options there at a Dollar General.”
Food deserts aren’t just about the amount of grocery stores, but also the resources to get to that store.
Milele Kennedy the Director of the Division of Community Nutrition and Food Policy said Indy’s urban sprawl can make getting to grocers hard.
”Its a large footprint and so this makes it much more difficult for residents to access food,” Kennedy said.
Kennedy said the entire community will feel the impacts of this Dollar General closing, but especially those without an easy way to get to another option.
”Seniors, people who do not have their own vehicles, people who rely on public transportation and children,” she said.
With transportation being a big factor here, Kennedy said access to the Indy Go Red Line and Purple Line should help neighbors around this Dollar General.
The Red Line can take neighbors up College Ave. The future Purple Line will take people farther down 38th St.
”That will provide additional access down that corridor for residents,” Kennedy said.
The Purple Line is set to be finished in 2024.
In response to questions on why the Dollar General was closing down, the company sent this statement.
“Dollar General is continually evaluating our stores and how to best serve our customers. After careful consideration, we plan to close our location at 3837 North College Avenue in Indianapolis, Indiana by the end of the year. We plan to transfer employees to nearby stores.”
The statement does not say why it was closing but it is worth noting neighbors nearby told us about crime issues at the store. According to IMPD call logs, there have been more than 20 theft or robbery calls at that location in the last year.