LYNN — Stop & Shop is working with the city to close some of the grocery gap caused by the impending closure of Shaw’s supermarket.
Stop & Shop, located at 35 Washington St., will provide free bus service to downtown seniors, which will allow them access to the store’s pharmacy and groceries, services that would otherwise no longer be a convenient option with the closure of Shaw’s, their neighborhood supermarket. The city estimates there are 1,000 seniors living in the immediate vicinity of the Shaw’s.
The announcement was made earlier this week after Mass Senior Action Council protested Shaw’s closure and numerous seniors called Mayor Thomas M. McGee and Ward 5 Councilor Dianna Chakoutis with their concerns about the void it would create.
“Seniors were concerned they were losing their local supermarket and pharmacy that was within walking distance for them,” Chakoutis said. “I am thrilled that Stop & Shop stepped up and is providing free transportation for the seniors.”
The city’s seniors have said they rely on the pharmacy at Shaw’s for their prescription needs and many elders in the area walk to the State Street store, which is scheduled to close on Saturday.
Shaw’s is within walking distance for hundreds of seniors living in downtown housing complexes such as St. Mary’s Plaza, St. Stephen’s Tower Apartments, and Wall Plaza. The bus service will begin on Tuesday at 9 a.m. and stop at all three complexes.
Following requests from those seniors for the city to intervene and assist them, a meeting was scheduled with Stop & Shop to see if the Washington Street store could help, at the request of McGee and Chakoutis, according to a city press release.
“We see an opportunity to help out the community, and we were glad to step in and provide free transportation to our Washington Street Stop & Shop,” said Kevin Waters, the store manager. “We want to make it easier for these seniors to get the food and medications they need and we’re looking forward to serving them.”
McGee said the transportation “will fill a need for the seniors who need access to a supermarket and pharmacy,” adding he was appreciative Stop & Shop was willing to step up and assist in a timely manner.
Bus service will run every Tuesday and Wednesday at 9 a.m.
Despite the transportation service for seniors, the closure of Shaw’s is expected to exacerbate the city’s existing grocery gap. Lynn is ranked in the top 10 communities in the state with the most significant gap, areas where residents are underserved by available groceries and markets, according to the Massachusetts Food Trust.
Lynn ranked eighth on the list released as part of a 2017 report, which showed that 2.8 million people living in low-income areas in Massachusetts lack access to grocery stores, including more than 700,000 children and 523,000 seniors.