Get on the bus
ATLANTIC CITY — As a single woman living on her own at the Best of Life Apartments, Nancy Katz developed a method during the past year and a half to get all her groceries, including fresh fruits, vegetables and meats.
Katz, 70, orders her dry and canned goods and heavy stuff from Walmart, which delivers them to her home. She buys all her fresh meats and vegetables every two weeks at the Absecon ShopRite, courtesy of bus rides provided by Atlantic County’s Division of Intergenerational Services.
“I like the convenience of getting on the bus to come here,” Katz said. “It (ShopRite) is always well stocked, and the place is clean.”
The bus-to-grocery-store program has been a help to Katz, who sold her car and no longer has to pay for gas or car insurance as a person on a fixed income.
The bus program also gives her independence, so she does not have to rely on her son, who lives in Atlantic City, to take her to the supermarket.
Atlantic County offered this type of service for years throughout the county with the exception of Atlantic City because the resort had its own service, County Executive Dennis Levinson said.
Two years ago, the county initiated services for Atlantic City residents as one of several measures that helped the city save $1 million. The county now provides multiple grocery runs in the city each week to either the Absecon ShopRite or the Ventnor Acme with an average of 125 riders, Levinson said.
ShopRite and Acme offer more choices of fruits and vegetables than what is available at most grocery and corner convenience stores in Atlantic City.
“Food insecurity is a real problem for many seniors because of medical and mobility issues as well as the financial considerations of living on fixed incomes that may limit their access to healthy foods,” Levinson said. “Atlantic County offers Meals on Wheels and free transportation to grocery stores.”
The county’s free bus rides for seniors to supermarkets compensates for the fact that Atlantic City has not had a proper supermarket for 15 years, and the resort has been labeled a food desert.
Jerry Goldberg, 67, who also lives in the Best of Life Apartments, is one of the dozens of people who have benefited for about two years from the county’s free rides to larger supermarkets. The ShopRite in Absecon is about 60,000 square feet.
During a recent trip to ShopRite, Goldberg bought quite a bit, including coffee, free medicine for his diabetes, avocados, onions, sweet potatoes, milk, broccoli, whole wheat bread, peaches, honeydew melon and wild-caught salmon. Once in a while, he also takes the bus on Tuesdays to Acme to purchase Empire Kosher chicken.
Goldberg takes the free bus ride to the supermarkets outside Atlantic City because gasoline is expensive.
“I drive. I have a vehicle,” said Goldberg, who added on the bus, he is introduced to people of new cultures and has interesting conversations. “Why not take advantage of this program? It’s a great program. For nothing, you can’t beat it.”
J.T. Wagner, 65, has taken a jitney to discount supermarket Save-A-Lot in Renaissance Plaza on Atlantic Avenue and a cab back to her home at Best of Life. She also has accompanied a friend in a car and taken a bus to travel there.
Wagner does not like to travel to Save-A-Lot by herself — one of the reasons she takes the free county bus rides to Acme and ShopRite.
On a recent Wednesday, Wagner had fish, vegetables and milk in her ShopRite cart.
“I think ShopRite has the biggest variety,” said Wagner, who added she hardly ever has to see the doctor because she eats correctly and has a positive attitude. “I’m all about the fresh food.”