Food, Lifestyle, News

Hunger Series: Prices vary widely in the pursuit of food

There are stores offering some of the lowest prices for select basic foodstuffs out of any grocery in Lynn, and surrounding communities, but taking advantage of some of those discounts means relying on transportation options not available to everyone.

In researching “the grocery gap” and the influence food prices have on hunger, The Item sampled prices for basic items — a half-gallon of 1 percent milk; a dozen eggs; a box of spaghetti; bread; a pound of hamburger and a can of black beans.

Care was taken in each price comparison to find comparable-size items and items with the lowest price in each store. The price checks were conducted on June 20 and 21.

Shoppers can find some of the best deals on these food basics at PriceRite on  the Lynnway in Lynn and Squire Road in Revere; Trader Joe’s off Route 1 North in Saugus, and Market Basket and Shaw’s in Lynn. Shaw’s and Market Basket are within walking distance of several Lynn residential neighborhoods while a car ride or a bus trip and walking are transportation options for Squire Road and Route 1 shoppers.

Like the Lynn Shaw’s and Market Basket, two other groceries in Lynn located near residential neighborhoods offered some of the lowest sampled prices. Compare Supermarket on Adams Street extension is easily accessible on foot and offered prices lower than the average prices of items priced in area stores.

Supreme Food on South Common Street in Lynn sold hamburger on the date surveyed for $4.13 a pound — lower than many other stores sampled. It is within walking distance of many Lynn neighborhoods.

Stop & Shop and Market Basket also offered deals on hamburger, charging $3.49 and $2.99 per pound respectively.

Market Basket and Price Rite in Lynn had the best deals on milk, charging $1.39 for a half gallon and 99 cents respectively, while Stop & Shop charged $1.79 and Shaw’s customers were paying $1.99. Price Rite has the least selection of the four grocery stores in Lynn, but ultimately the lowest prices, charging just 99 cents for a dozen eggs.

By contrast, convenience and location can come with a price for food shoppers. Located on West Shore Drive in Marblehead, Community Store, Inc. priced a box of spaghetti at $1.89 and a half gallon of milk at $2.79. PriceRite in Revere charged 88 cents for spaghetti and Trader Joe’s milk costs $1.69.

Karla’s on Shirley Avenue in Revere and One Stop Market in Saugus’ Cliftondale are stores offering shoppers the convenience of locations- – especially shoppers who can’t get to Squire Road or Route 1 to buy groceries, or to the Market Basket and Stop & Shop in Revere.

Karla’s priced a half-gallon of milk at $3.49 on June 21 and a box of spaghetti at $1.99. The store used to be located three blocks from a chain grocery store off North Shore Road, but the bigger store has since closed.

Eating healthier also comes with a price. Whole Foods in Swampscott and Lynn, which features a lot of organic food, charged, with some food items, twice the price of typical grocery stores such as Stop & Shop and Market Basket or Shaw’s. The lowest price on a loaf of bread at Whole Foods in either location was $2.99, which was the same price a customer could buy a dozen eggs for. A half gallon of milk cost $2.19 to $2.29 for the lowest price in either location.

A sampling of food prices also showed a wide variation in pricing for the sampled items, depending on the store selling them. Black bean prices varied from the lowest to highest price sampled by 200 percent. Prices for eggs varied by 400 percent and the bread prices by more than 400 percent.

The overall lowest prices offered by any store sampled were found in, aptly enough, PriceRite in Revere and Lynn — bus fare or a gallon of gas not included.

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