Topeka citizens petition against closing of neighborhood grocery store

Anna Ciummo

Recently, many citizens of Topeka have been protesting in a petition against the closing of a Dillon’s store.

The Dillon’s grocery store on Huntoon Street is one of the only sources of food for many Topeka residents. Because the store is located within a vast, tightly-networked neighborhood, it is easy for many in the area to simply walk to the store and buy what they need. Some do not have cars. However, it was announced earlier in 2016 that the store was to close. Once this happens, the nearest place offering food sales would be fast food places and gas station convenience stores.

Kimberley Brummett, a freshman studying finance, volunteers at the Harvester’s food pantry and has firsthand experience working with families who don’t have access to proper food.

“A lot more people would be hungry,” Brummett said, in regards to the store’s closing. “I think many people would even desert the area.”

The petition online explains that the area depending on this grocery store would soon turn into a food desert. The USDA defines a food desert as “parts of the country vapid of fresh fruit, vegetables and other healthful whole foods, usually found in impoverished areas. This is largely due to a lack of grocery stores, farmers’ markets and healthy food providers.”

“The city should try to allocate some money to try and save [the store],” Brummett said. “They’ve got to make sure their people are fed.”

Another student at Washburn, Mike Smalley, who is majoring in computer science, is also dismayed at the closing of the store.

“I know some people back in Lawrence who would need rides from other people just to go to the grocery store,” Smalley said. “In [Topeka] there is public transportation, but there are certain times of the day where you’re not able to get food. If you work during the daytime, you’re not able to take public transportation.”

The closest grocery store in the area is a Walmart Neighborhood Market, but it is still several miles to get there and there are fast food places even nearer.

“Even if you’re able to get the groceries, you still have to carry it all home,” Smalley said.

The store is to be officially closed on Feb. 13 and there are no official plans to replace it.