As Henry Porter walked down the brightly polished aisles of the new Food 4 Less market in Athens, he glanced at the fresh red and green apples stacked neatly in a row, the mists of water refreshing the vegetables and sighed in disbelief.
“It is so good to see this come into the community,” said Porter, the unofficial “mayor” of the unincorporated area. “It’s important for the jobs, for the good food and just to have a beautiful store. I am just elated.”
After several months of construction, the new, 80,515 square-foot supermarket opened its doors, welcoming shoppers to a new bakery, meat and seafood counters, deli and much more. The old Food 4 Less, which was located next door, was showing its age, with cracked linoleum, cramped spaces and offered customers little variety with regard to produce and fresh meats.
But the opening of the Food 4 Less, signifies more than just a place to buy fresh fruits and vegetables—it is an $11 million-investment by Food 4 Less and its parent company, Kroger, signaling their commitment to Athens and the entire Second District. More than 100 full and part-time employees have been hired and approximately 75 additional jobs expected due to this expansion.
In addition, the company presented $5,000 in grants to Washington High School and Middle College High School.
Porter and other community leaders met with the store’s management to discuss what items and amenities would work well, such as a new community room for residents to use, bright lighting in the parking lot and a close relationship between the security company, the Sheriff’s Department and residents to ensure safety.
Also, Kroger has shown a commitment to healthier and greener communities with their Food Waste Recovery System in Compton, a first-in-the-nation renewable energy project that converts food and other waste from Ralphs and Food 4 Less stores into clean energy. That facility opened last May and is anticipated to generate enough renewable energy to power 8,000 homes a year while reducing 134 tons of waste per day.
“I thank Food 4 Less and Kroger for their commitment to making the Second District a healthier and greener place to live,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. “I hope this is one of many new markets we unveil together over the coming years.”
Porter, meanwhile, said he was eager to make his shopping rounds and would buy some bell peppers and fish and cranberry juice.
“Age took a toll on the last supermarket,” he noted. “But this one is state of the art.”