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‘99 Cents Only Stores' closures could affect families facing food insecurity in LA County

About one million households in Los Angeles are food insecure, according to data from the University of Southern California. Now, those same experts worry the closure of 99 Cents Only Stores will make things much worse. 

At a time when many struggle to afford groceries, the closure of 99 Cents Only Stores is a financial blow to families.

“It’s a shame that 99 cents is leaving,” Maria, a shopper, said. Maria visited a store in Maywood, loading her cart with fruits, vegetables, milk and a pack of tortillas. 

“For me it’s one of the best stores,” Maria said. She ended up spending $16.90 for two bags of groceries. 

NBC4 compared prices to other local stores selling the same items. These included:

  • a pack of strawberries
  • a cantalope
  • a 3lb bag of potatoes
  • a pack of tortillas
  • a gallon of milk

The totals at each store were:

  • $11.39 at 99 Cents Only Store
  • $14.95 at Grocery Outlet
  • $17.96 at Ralphs

Overall, Maria saved between $3 to $4. It may not sound like much, but for someone who has a strict $50 weekly grocery budget it makes a difference.

Maria said the savings are a real benefit to her and her family.

And according to Kayla de la Hay, a research scientist at USC’s center for economic and social research, she isn’t the only one who needs the help.

“I don’t think dollar stores are the place where people get a lot of nutritious food. But I do worry that this is going to make it a lot harder for people who are already struggling to put food on the table,” De la Hay said. 

She said 30% of people in LA County are food insecure, meaning they don’t have reliable access to food.  

“Those food deserts are located in a lot of low end communities and communities of color. And if they start to close, there’s a real gap in food access for many of these neighborhoods,” De la Hay said. “We really need to think about how we’re going to help these communities that have been under invested in getting better access to affordable, healthy food.”

For now, people are forced to find other options with their limited budgets. Maria said she’ll have to cut back on the number of items she buys. 

The situation is underscoring the need to address food access and affordability in low income communities.


Source: NBC Los Angeles

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