Today, At Large Boston City Councillor Ayanna Pressley released a statement regarding the arrival of Whole Foods to the Boston neighborhood of Jamaica Plain. Last Tuesday, Councillor Pressley attended the Jamaican Plan Community Meeting, where the overwhelming majority of residents, mostly Latino, expressed their concerns and opposition to Whole Foods, which will be opening a new store in the former location of the HI LO supermarket, a venerable Boston Latino institution.
Here is Councillor Pressley’s statement:
I have two primary concerns around Whole Foods opening in the former site of Hi Lo. My first concern, and this is the most pressing at this time, is supporting the laid off Hi Lo workers. As is too often the case, the fired Hi Lo workers were given little or no warning and left to fend for themselves. That is bad enough but in these challenging economic times, it’s unconscionable.
I’m encouraged by reports of Whole Foods giving priority to interviewing, and potentially hiring, the former Hi Lo workers. But rents, mortgages, electricity bills, prescription costs don’t suddenly pause when you’re laid off. It’s critical that we’re doing everything we can at the City level to support the workers and get them back to work.
My second concern is the impact of Whole Foods on the Jamaica Plain community and whether it can adequately serve Latino and Caribbean residents as Hi Lo did. It’s important Boston is open for business and that we’re not reflexively saying no to any new business or development.
But new businesses and new developments should provide benefits to their new communities and new neighbors. I expect Whole Foods to be open to seriously listening to the Jamaica Plain community and addressing their concerns. From what they stock and sell, to the design of the store, to mitigating possible traffic and parking issues, Whole Foods has a responsibility to be a good community partner.
You can contact Councillor Pressley here: Councillor Pressley.