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WOODSIDE, New York - Several politicians in the New York borough of Queens are rallying for more supermarkets, as they say major chain drug stores are taking over real estate in communities and inconveniencing older residents who have to travel to buy groceries, according to local reports.
Queens Councilman Eric Gioia joined Congressman Joseph Crowley and several Assemblywomen last week in a rally in the community of Woodside to protest the closing of a Foodtown supermarket, set for Feb. 6. They called on the landlord to stop a pharmacy chain from moving into what they consider to be an already overcrowded market.
The Foodtown is the only supermarket of its kind in the area, and they say its closing would be especially hard on seniors in the neighborhood who walk to buy their groceries. Several grocery stores in Ridgewood and Maspeth, other Queens neighborhoods, have also recently closed.
"This is the second group of residents who have become victims of the drug war," Gioia said. "A supermarket is more than the selling of food; it is the hub of the community."
Gioia said he will be introducing legislation that will require food stores of a certain size to give a community a 90-day notice before closing its doors. "If you have to tell a community that you are pulling a baseball team out of the community, then you should be able to tell a community that you are taking away its supermarket," he said.
Crowley noted that a study conducted in Connecticut revealed that in lower- and middle-class neighborhoods, there are 30 percent less local grocery stores than in higher-income communities.
Areas like Woodside, which has a large senior citizen community, are seen as easy prey for major chain pharmacies that often charge higher prices, Crowley said.