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Hy-Vee announces interim steps in response to the Cedar Rapids store closing



Cedar Rapids, Iowa – Hy-Vee has declared its intentions to assist the communities surrounding the First Avenue store in Cedar Rapids, which it is closing.

The closing day of the Cedar Rapids store will be June 23. A “food desert,” or an area where individuals lack convenient access to fresh, healthful food, will be created by the shutdown.

Earlier this month, Hy-Vee announced the closure of both its Waterloo and Davenport locations.

After a backlash to their first announcement, corporate executives announced that they are now providing ways to “ease the transition.”

• Hy-Vee will provide a free shuttle service from the First Ave, location to the Oakland Road Hy-Vee. It will only run three days a week, four hours at a time until September 1.
• There will be free grocery delivery for people living within one mile of the store, but they’ll have to sign up and order around $25 worth of groceries. Free delivery will last for one year.
• Free pharmacy delivery will continue.
• The company won’t restrict who can own the building next, meaning another grocery store would not be prevented from using the site.
• Hy-Vee will partner with HACAP to support a mobile food pantry in the parking lot twice a month during July and August.

Sophia Joseph, a member of “We are CR,” assisted in planning a demonstration outside the store on Wednesday. Sophia has frequented the establishment for many of its twenty-two years.

“They left a lot of people really in limbo. There’s a lot of trust that’s broken,” said Joseph.

“I specifically do all my day-to-day shopping here to support the store,” she added. “I think it’s incredibly important that this be a grocery store. So I went out of my way to shop here, even when there was less selection and other problems.”

In an effort to make sure this facility serves the community in the long run, Cedar Rapids Mayor Tiffany O’Donnell said the city is in discussions with for-profit and nonprofit organizations. Based on U.S. Census data, the First Ave. store is located in an area classified as “High Poverty,” making the business case difficult to make.

“There was a reason why the city provided incentives for that store to go there in the first place. So that location, from the very beginning, was a challenge,” said O’Donnell.

Wednesday, a statement from Hyvee said the three stores closing in Eastern Iowa “have each been losing significant amounts of money for several years.”

The community really needed the new safeguards, according to O’Donnell.

“We’re extremely pleased that the company listened to community members who came together last week to identify immediate needs, and Hy-Vee is going to meet those needs, at least here in the transition,” she said.

Joseph, though, felt that these short-term measures fell short.

She suggested that Hy-Vee hire canvassers to go throughout the neighborhood and inform people about the services they would be providing, or even better, the shop could wait until September to close rather than providing temporary fixes.

“We want viable long-term solutions,” said Joseph. “We want to make sure that a grocery store occupies this building going forward.”