Residents petition city to keep grocery store, concerned closure leaves them in food desert

Published 5:07 am Sunday, January 17, 2021

In December, shortly after the city bought the old Bryant’s Pic-Pac building, Frankfort resident Devin Armstrong started a petition.

“You can talk to just about anybody in South Frankfort and if you talk for 15 minutes or so, the need for a grocery here will come up,” Armstrong said.

The petition, which asks the City of Frankfort to retain the former Pic-Pac building as a grocery store, has more than 2,800 signatures.

“Grocery options are extremely limited, and there are very few businesses left to compete with Kroger and Walmart,” Armstrong’s petition reads. “With Save a Lot on the West side of town going out of business, we will be left with only these corporate behemoths, and many people with transportation impediments will not be able to easily access food on a regular basis.”

The former city commission suggested that the building could be used for a new fire station, as former Mayor Bill May and current Fire Chief Wayne Briscoe have stressed both the need for a new downtown station and the ideal setting that the building would offer.

Particularly since Pic-Pac’s closing, the problem of downtown Frankfort’s “food desert” has been much discussed. The State Journal has published several articles on the issue, several citizens have decried the lack of food sources downtown, and the city was even awarded a federal grant to come up with potential solutions to the problem.

With the departure of Pic-Pac, much of downtown Frankfort became a “food desert,” which the U.S. Department of Agriculture defines as a low-income census tract where a substantial share of residents have low access to groceries. On the USDA’s map using data from 2015, when Pic-Pac was still in business, all of downtown was considered a low-income census tract, but only eastern portions of the city qualified as food deserts. With Pic-Pac’s closure, that designation likely expanded to a significant portion of downtown.