More than 500 residents living in a senior housing complex in Greenlawn now have an easier and cheaper way to buy their groceries.
Residents of Paumanack Village, a federally subsidized independent-living community for low-income seniors and people with disabilities, were left scrambling to find a way to buy their groceries when the Waldbaum’s in Greenlawn shut its doors last month.
Now administrators at the complex, elected officials and grocery and drug stores have stepped up to help them. Among the help being offered: The owner of a nearby IGA grocery will deduct the cost of a bus ride from the residents’ grocery bills.OpinionReader essay: Loss of a supermarket cuts deepStoryThousands worry as Waldbaum's, Pathmark vanish StoryKing Kullen to open in ex-Waldbaum’s spot
Earlier this month, the Town of Huntington helped secure a paratransit HART bus to shuttle residents, some of whom use wheelchairs and walkers, back and forth twice a week to the Larkfield IGA supermarket in East Northport. But the $6 round-trip bus ride was still a hardship for some of the Paumanack residents, many of whom don’t have cars and live on a fixed income.
In response, Charlie Reichert, owner of the Larkfield IGA, offered to deduct the cost of the round-trip bus ride for residents of Paumanack who shop at the supermarket.
“That means you don’t have to worry to come up with the extra funds to catch that bus,” Suffolk County Legis. William Spencer, who represents the area, said in announcing the arrangement to a crowd of about 75 Paumanack residents. “This is a fantastic holiday gift.”
The Larkfield IGA is an independent grocer with the Independent Grocers Alliance cooperative, which has nearly 5,000 supermarkets worldwide.
“We are not a big store like Waldbaum’s, but we have everything,” said Christopher Blohm, manager of the East Northport supermarket.
Residents, such as Dorothy Sundberg, 91, previously accessed the Waldbaum’s by pathways that allowed them to walk or take electric scooters from the complex.
“It was like angels came and helped us,” said Sundberg, who has lived in the village for more than eight years. “I don’t even miss Waldbaum’s.”
After the store closed, CVS, Value Drugs and Mid Village Pharmacy offered to deliver prescriptions for free. And Peapod by Stop & Shop offered grocery delivery at a discount.
An attorney for Shanghai Enterprises, a real estate developer based in Jamaica, Queens, and the new owner of the Greenlawn location, has said the company is trying to get a supermarket operator in the former Waldbaum’s location.
“I won’t stop until we get a supermarket next door,” Spencer said.
Separately, the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co., the parent company of Waldbaum’s and Pathmark, asked the bankruptcy court last week for permission to get out of 56 real estate leases, including its corporate headquarters in Montvale, N.J. and 11 closed grocery stores on Long Island it has been unable to sell. If approved, the stores would go back to their landlords, who would be able to find new tenants for the spaces.
All the 51 stores open on Long Island ceased operation by A&P in November. So far, 34 stores have been bought or bid on. Most have been bought by other supermarket chains. Five were closed in October, and 12 other store locations remain unsold.