NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — It’s been nearly a week since the lone grocery store in the St. Paul’s area of Norfolk shut its doors, making the community a food desert.

But, those living in the community and its allies are stepping up to help those who need food.

“It’s important to help my fellow neighbors. This is community empowerment at its best work,” said Lavonne Pledger, who is a community activist. “Being able to assist others and you know, have greater Norfolk come together under this cause, we can solve so many problems. Not just this. We’re working for empowerment and ownership in this community.”

Save-A-Lot off Church Street closed its doors just a few days ago. The store is located in walkable distance for many living in the Young Terrace, Calvert Square, and Tidewater Gardens public housing communities.

Pledger tells 10 On Your Side the closure is a devastating blow, especially to seniors, during the middle of a pandemic.

“It’s definitely a loss. The loss of the grocery store is creating a food desert, which means residents are not able to get fresh food, veggies and protein, things they need in a time like this. This couldn’t be more devastating to the community and surrounding area,” he said.

That’s why Saturday morning, volunteers will be out in not just the three communities, but also Barraud Park, Lindenwood, and Berkley, to hand out groceries to those in need.

“It’s summer. It’s going to be hot. We’re encouraging residents to stay in their homes. We’ll be in a big bus, several cars. We’ll be knocking on doors and handing out food to the residents in several communities affected,” he said.

Residents who need groceries can also show up to the parking lot where Save-A-Lot used to be.

And if you don’t need food but are looking to help, Pledger says they’re in need, not just now but for future food donations they’re working on.

“This crisis, not just the pandemic, but things like this food desert, we recognize the institutional racism in low-income communities and black communities. In recognition of that, we’re trying to fight and right those wrongs like injustices like this,” he said.

Volunteers can help out from 8 a.m. to noon.

To sign up, click here.

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