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Farmington's only grocery store shutters, leaving thousands without immediate access to food

Updated: December 22, 2019 05:34 PM

Ahead of the busy holiday shopping weekend, the Family Fresh Market closed its doors at the Farmington, Minnesota, location for the final time Thursday afternoon.

In November, the store's parent company announced it was pulling out of Farmington, a city south of the Twin Cities with a population of more than 21,000 people. It was the only grocery store in town.

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As the staple shuttered, community partners rushed to find ways to fill the gap to help thousands of vulnerable residents.

"It's a public health crisis," said Farmington City Council member Joshua Hoyt. "We literally have residents who don't have immediate access to simple things like food and medicine."

Hoyt said thousands of seniors and people without transportation will be hit hardest by the change.

"For some people this is their only option," Hoyt said. "If I'm sitting in my apartment or my house and I don't have a vehicle or I don't have the means to travel 5 or 6 miles, how am I going to make it through to the next day or two?"

Over the past few years, leaders have tried to bring other grocery options to Farmington. Hoyt said grocery store chains Hy-Vee and Aldi both bought land that sits a few minutes from downtown, but have yet to break ground.

"At the end of the day, there's not a whole lot we can do when it comes to saying, 'Move now, build now, come here now,'" he said.

Hoyt hopes this crisis prompts those companies to expedite their timelines. But in the meantime, the community is desperate for options.

Loaves and Fishes, a Twin Cities nonprofit that aims to provide healthy meals to people in areas without access to options, announced Friday it would open its 33rd dining location in Farmington on Jan. 1.

"There's just going to have to be a lot of arrows in the quiver to make certain the people in Farmington get fed," said executive director Cathy Maes. "The more we can come together, the better it can be."

The meals will be served 5:30-6:30 p.m. every Wednesday night at the Faith United Methodist Church in Farmington.

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Kirsten Swanson

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