You’ll find food deserts just a few miles from the state Capitol in north Sacramento. These are low-income, low-access neighborhoods where residents have to drive several miles to find a full-service grocery store.
So it's no surprise the opening of a Grocery Outlet Thursday on Del Paso Boulevard drew a crowd of about 200 people who formed a line down the block.
Helen Brent arrived at 7:30 a.m. to be one of the first in the door when the store opened. The grocery chain distributed discount coupons to the first 200 customers, in values ranging from $5-200.
Brent has lived in north Sacramento for 50 years. She uses a walker and relies on a caregiver for a lift to the grocery store. She says for the longest time, the only option for groceries in her neighborhood was a corner market.
"They don't have good quality produce," says Brent."They're high on their prices. They gouge. We know, because we go to the 99 cent store and we come back and they have the stuff that we see at a double price."
Also shopping was Ishmael Abdul-Haqq, who does community outreach with the Center For Fathers And Families down the street.
He describes Del Paso Heights as a vibrant neighborhood that suffers from a lack of access to healthy food. He echoed Brent's sentiment that local stores sell "second rate" produce.
"I don't mind traveling down to the farmers market, underneath I-5," he explains. "I love it, early in the morning, fresh air, birds are chirping. But why shouldn't I do that right here in my local neighborhood?"
Abdul-Haqq says he knows several neighborhood residents who landed jobs at the new store, including people who've come a long way from drug addiction or homelessness. He's glad to see local dollars getting plugged back into the community.