This story has been updated.
A community meeting Thursday afternoon in southeastern Colorado Springs will address the recent closure of a grocery store in the area and possible solutions to fill the gap for residents.
It's been nearly a month since a King Soopers grocery store on South Academy closed due to the discovery of asbestos. According to the state health department, the dangerous material had been found in the flooring in an area of the building. The state told the store it had to restrict access to the area.
King Soopers, in turn, decided to close the store for investigation, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.
There is no timeline given for its reopening. The property owner said it's the grocery store's responsibility to mitigate.
In a statement released Wednesday afternoon, King Soopers said the company will offer free delivery to customers of the store. It will come as a digital coupon preloaded onto loyalty accounts. It says a mobile pharmacy is also available on site.
The company also said it will make a $5,000 donation to Care and Share, which helps distribute food to local pantries, for "their ongoing community support efforts."
“This is a real blow to have a grocery store just vanish in one day, without any notice of when things are going to move forward,” said Yolanda Avila, the councilwoman for District 4 in which the store is based.
The closure leaves the area with limited grocery options, according to Jessi Bustamante with Food to Power, an organization that focuses on building a more equitable food system in Colorado Springs.
“There isn’t enough access to food to really service the people that live there,” she said. “In southeastern Colorado Springs, there are only two or three grocery stores. For that population, there’s not a lot of ways to access fresh food.”
There are other considerations, too, Bustamante said.
“King Soopers was more than just a grocery store,” said Bustamante. “There was also the pharmacy, money services, and utility box payments… There were so many services in one location, what are we missing?”
Thursday's community meeting will discuss possible solutions, like possibly increasing funding for food pantries or adding farmer's markets in the area. Food to Power, along with Councilwoman Avila and other community groups are seeking the public's input as well.
The community meeting takes place Thursday, July 13 at 5:30 p.m. at Panorama Park.
Southern Colorado is changing a lot these days. We can help you keep up. Sign up for the KRCC Weekly Digest here and get the stories that matter to Southern Colorado, delivered straight to your inbox.