New Grocery Store in Oak Cliff is an Oasis in a Food Desert

DALLAS -- You may have heard of a food desert before, but for the folks in Oak Cliff's Highland Hills neighborhood, it's been a reality for almost a decade.

"The closest grocery store, I do believe, is about four and a half miles away," said Highland Hills resident Brandy Kemps. "We don't even have a restaurant here.  The community has been hurting for a very long time."

That's why it was cause for a celebration - complete with the local high school's marching band - when a brand-new Save-A-Lot food store opened its doors Friday.  To the locals, it's an oasis.

"We now have a grocery store in the area," Dallas Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Erik Wilson told the crowd at the grand opening. "We will end the food desert in Highland Hills."

"This is a really big deal," Wilson told reporters at the event. "As you can see, all the fresh fruits and vegetables, this is exactly what the community wanted, and what the city was able to deliver."

The City of Dallas contributed $2.8 million to the project that puts fresh, nutritious food within reach of hundreds of Dallasites.

"We have, I do believe, about four apartment complexes right here within walking distance," said Kemps, a property manager at one of those complexes and an employee at the new grocery store.

"This is a labor of love," said Wilson. "This is something we've been waiting for a long time."

Along with food access, and over 30 new jobs, the new store also brought hope for more economic development in the area.

James Payne, who's lived in the area for over 50 years, said the community needs - and deserves - more.

"Something to kind of give our children opportunity and jobs, and more they can look forward for besides running up and down the streets," Payne said.  "I believe they'll think more about life if they see something coming in this area."

In the meantime, the Save A Lot is a good start.

"It's much needed," said Kemps. "It's well overdue."