State House committee opens discussion on urban grocery stores

LANSING, MI – State lawmakers say struggling urban areas without grocery stores will have a hard time ever being revitalized. The state House Urban Policy Committee met Friday to hear testimony on the important role of supermarkets in cities.

The committee met in Detroit, where the last remaining grocery store chain - Farmer Jack - left in 2007. Committee members say the situation creates "a social justice issue" because residents in urban communities are often forced to choose fast food or junk food from liquor stores and gas stations.

Rosalind Hardeman runs a women's clothing store next to an old Farmer Jack store in Detroit. She says she pays nearly double for groceries from mom-n-pop shops.

"For people who the economy is bad, you know, families are on a fixed income, we should be able to by fresh meat, fresh produce, just like anyone else," she says.

The House committee heard testimony from an independent business owner who hopes to open a new grocery store next to Hardeman's shop. Representatives of the United Food and Commercial Workers say it could be several months before that would happen.