Grocery chains get low grades in South L.A.

LOS ANGELES The Alliance for Health and Responsible Grocery Stores has graded supermarkets throughout Los Angeles, giving the Ralphs chain a B minus, the highest grade received. None of the eleven chains received and A, with the lowest scoring chain receiving a D plus.

The existence of so-called "food deserts" has a been a problem for years. Poor areas of the city are either not served by supermarkets, or are poorly served, forcing residents to drive miles or take the bus for sometimes pricey food. Neither Vons nor Ralphs returned calls for comments.

The Alliance said that supermarkets closing down in economically disadvantaged areas of the city has also become more common, with few new stores opening to replace them.

Even at the better chains, high quality food does not find its way into stores in poorer areas of Los Angeles.

"Having fewer options means that the same product in South Los Angeles costs more than the same produce would cost in other neighborhoods with fewer options," said Joanne Kim with the Alliance.

The organization plans to keep putting pressure on grocery chains and hopes the city government will join them in pushing for better availability of quality food in disadvantaged areas.

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