Groceries get hero’s welcome in Vis Valley


Mayor Ed Lee, Supervisor Malia Cohen and community leaders joined Saturday morning shoppers Saturday morning at grand opening of the new Grocery Outlet on Bayshore Boulevard.

Photos by Gabriella Gamboa/SFBay

The new supermarket marks the first time in years Visitacion Valley residents have been able to buy fresh affordable food without having to lug grocery bags across the city.

Mayor Ed Lee told SFBay the supermarket would help area families be able to afford to eat healthy food:

“We all work together to help as many San Francisco residents as possible. There are many working class families that are out here.”

Edie Epps, 62-year-old community resident who brought her grandson to the store, said she was happy to finally be able to shop in her own neighborhood.

“It’s more about the connection with Visitacion Valley than the low prices. This is more about community.”

The building, originally designed to house a Safeway, includes A. Silvestri Co., a stonework and statuary company, among former tenants. The store still displays their statues at the parking lot entrances.

The new grocery store is an oasis in the Visitacion Valley “food desert.” Prior to the store’s opening, area residents had to travel more than a mile to buy affordable healthy fresh food, a time-consuming task especially on the bus.

Visitacion Valley residents’ only other options were to shop at expensive convenience stores or eat fast food.

The US Department of Agriculture describes Visitacion Valley residents as being low income and having low access to healthy foods, a situation which contributes to higher rates of obesity and diabetes.

Those are big reasons why Cohen told SFBay the store would make a welcome addition to her district:

“We are going to make sure every community has a grocery store and every place is clean and safe.”

In addition to providing food options, the Visitacion Valley Grocery Outlet has provided jobs. The store has hired only San Franciscans to work its aisles.

Saturday’s events lasted from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and included Grocery Outlet mascot Lois Prices, $1 hot dogs and sodas, free coffee and donuts, face painting, games and free eco-friendly reusable bags for the first 500 customers.

During the grand opening ceremony Cohen presented the location’s owners, Gina and Derek Navarro, with a plaque thanking them for opening the supermarket.

In turn, the couple donated a $1,000 pallet of food to Visitacion Valley Strong Families, a local food bank, which helps to feed needy families in the area.

Gina Navarros told SFBay she was impressed with the response she’d received from the City.

“When we started out we thought we were just going to own a business, but now we’ve made a connection to the community.”

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