Natural Foods Merchandiser

Bodega Blues

by Shara Rutberg

Rising food prices are razing neighborhood strongholds of sustenance: bodegas. In New York City, where many of the small neighborhood stores were already teetering on the brink of disaster due to climbing rents, increasing food prices are pushing the businesses over the edge. According to the Bodega Association of the United States, which claims membership of 7,800 of New York's 11,400 bodegas, one thousand bodegas have closed over the past two years.

According to a study published by the New York City Department of City Planning on April 21, 3 million New Yorkers live in neighborhoods that require more accessible supermarkets, while many more could benefit from competing supermarkets where they live. One-third of New York's supermarkets have closed over the last five years, according to the report. Severely underserved areas include low-income neighborhoods such as Harlem, East New York and Jamaica. Bodegas serve as tiny grocery oases in the vast food desert. The tide of food store-bereft blocks, however, seems to be rising.

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