Business Column

Straus: Price Rite satisfies hunger for nutritious food on the South Side, but needs continued support to stick around

Stacy Fernández | Asst. Feature Editor

A Price Rite recently opened on Syracuse's South Side, stripping the neighborhood of its classification as a "food desert."

Discount supermarket chain Price Rite recently opened a store on Syracuse’s South Side in a long overdue move that will end the neighborhood’s drought of full-service grocery stores. Area residents have seen several grocery and retail stores move out of the low-income community, but the Price Rite could be a catalyst for its economic revival.

It’s hard to deny the Price Rite will be anything but beneficial for the struggling neighborhood. For decades, the South Side has been considered a “food desert,” with residents relying on small convenience stores that offer limited selections of nutritious foods and little-to-no fresh produce.

After years of relying on these local corner stores or taking taxis to full-service grocery stores across town, residents finally have an outlet for healthy foods within walking distance. Though the supermarket was partially made possible by taxpayer dollars, Syracuse taxpayers must admit that it’s a worthy investment.

The new Price Rite location, which cost about $5.3 million, was made possible through years of lobbying by local nonprofit Jubilee Homes, according to Syracuse.com. The store also received $1.4 million in state grants, $200,000 from Onondaga County and tax breaks for its first 10 years of operations, per Syracuse.com. In addition to providing South Side residents an affordable and wide selection of fresh produce, meats and other groceries, the new store has created 15 full-time and 85 part-time jobs for the neighborhood.

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Emma Comtois | Digital Design Editor

Evan Weissman, an assistant professor of food studies at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, said he believes the Price Rite is an example of the government executing its role in ensuring the health and safety of its citizens.

“If we’re not paying upstream in ensuring people live healthy lifestyles, then we’re paying a whole lot more downstream when we are admitting people to emergency rooms,” Weissman said.

Syracuse taxpayers have long been supporting citizens who are unable to be active or productive members of the workforce because of poor health and diet. With the introduction of the Price Rite store offering accessible nutritious foods for South Side residents, it’s only a matter of time before the store’s offerings are reflected in the health of nearby residents.

More importantly, if Price Rite can remain soluble for a couple years, it could potentially attract retail stores back to the area, which would be a true sign of the area’s economic reemergence. In addition to South Side residents, shoppers from surrounding neighborhoods — including the SU community — should consider buying groceries at the new Price Rite to ensure the store sticks around in the long term.

“Local and state governments have to be the leaders in trying to change the dynamic of this area for the better. One hopes that this Price Rite store is a catalyst for that change,” said James Newman, professor emeritus of geography at SU’s Maxwell School.

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Riley Bunch | Staff Photographer

A long line of customers eagerly awaited outside the store on its opening day, but Price Rite will need to prove that it can continue to attract and sustain a strong customer base before the area gets any real attention from investors.

In the meantime, the SU community needs to do its part in supporting the store, which has the potential to revive an entire community. Located only 1.7 miles from campus on 611 South Ave., Price Rite is a worthwhile alternative to the Tops near South Campus, which can be pricey at times.

Not only will groceries be more affordable at Price Rite, but we can do our part in supporting the recovery of a community that’s been in need for decades.

Alex Straus is a sophomore public relations major and finance minor. His column appears weekly. He can be reached at astraus@syr.edu.

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