Meng wants Key Food site to sell U.S. items

Assemblywoman Grace Meng (l.) introduces her 2010 summer intern class to the audience at her State of the District address. Photo by Connor Adams Sheets
By Connor Adams Sheets

State Assemblywoman Grace Meng (D-Flushing) used part of her second-annual report on the state of her district Monday evening to discuss the fallout over the recent closing of the Key Food supermarket on Roosevelt Avenue in Flushing.

The store, at 142-41 Roosevelt Ave., had long been a mainstay for the neighborhood, providing residents with a convenient location with a wide array of American and Asian foods and groceries.

The store was something of a last large-scale alternative to Asian markets, according to a member of the crowd Monday night, who yelled out that Meng needs to help ensure that the site will be replaced by a business that provides American foods as well as more ethnic ones.

“We promised some of our residents and neighbors that there will be a new supermarket there, and that they will sell American food products as well,” Meng said, adding that it can often be difficult for residents to find foods such as certain deli meats and even some pet products.

Key Food did not offer comment, but a company spokeswoman said the “effective date” of the closing was June 4. A neighbor, Mary Boroz, said the store closed its doors May 26, leaving many area residents in a lurch, unable to easily obtain food and other items.

“It has had a devastating impact. A lot of people, elderly or disabled, are having a really, really hard time. Some of them can’t walk to Met Food down on Sanford and Bowne,” she said. “One man, who’s disabled and walks with a walker, actually stocked up before Key Food went out of business and now he’s running out of food.”

The State of the District address, named after the president’s traditional State of the Union speech, comes at the tail end of the legislative session and was an opportunity for the freshman legislator to update her constituents on the work she and the state Legislature have been doing all year.

Beyond letting people know about the recent plight of the Key Food store, Meng laid out her accomplishments this past year and her vision for the coming months, during which she hopes to tackle a new set of problems.

Meng faced head-on during her speech the anger many voters have toward New York’s state government.

“Sometimes it’s embarrassing to be an elected official in Albany,” she said. “I never promised to single-handedly change Albany, but I did promise to do what I can to make it more transparent and more accessible.”

Monday night she did just that, letting voters know her and Albany’s successes: protecting funding for student MetroCards and borough senior centers as well as passing bills on topics ranging from baby formula to hate crimes and discussing the work that still needs to be done, such as increasing green space in Flushing and addressing the issue of how best to go about having businesses in downtown Flushing display the names of their shops in English.

In total, she said she wants to continue doing her job, which she said is to help the people of her district and state.

“It’s about taking ownership — whether it’s Queens, Flushing or just a couple of houses on your block — and empowering those very people in our communities,” she said.

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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