A new Walmart Neighborhood Market is delivering groceries, pharmacy services and more than 90 jobs to the Largo community.
Walmart representatives and community leaders attended the recent grand opening of the store, located at 9020 Ulmerton Road, off Starkey Road. At the ceremony $6,000 in grants were given to Boys & Girls Club of the Suncoast
, Largo Middle School and Teen Tyne Productions.
The store will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It offers a full supply of groceries including organic and natural foods. There also will be prepared foods for sale, fresh breads and baked goods and a self-serve deli with items such as pork loin ribs and rotisserie chicken.
Up to 95 full- and part-time jobs are provided at the new store. It is the second neighborhood market to open in Largo in Pinellas County. Walmart is a national chain known for its discounted general merchandise and super centers. The company opened its first neighborhood market in 1998 and now has 300 nationwide.
Store manager Shane Dellus began his Walmart employment as an overnight stocker.
"We are excited to bring new jobs to the Largo community and to help residents save money so they can live better," said Dellus.
In addition to jobs and shopping convenience, Walmart representatives say the market helps promote the company's efforts to fight hunger by providing neighborhoods with local shopping options.
"One of our goals is to locate stores in food deserts," says Walmart spokesman Bill Wertz.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture identifies "food deserts" as low-income communities that have limited access to affordable and nutritious foods. The Ulmerton Road store is within proximity of a neighborhood identified by the USDA as a food desert.
Walmart plans to have as many as 300 stores in food deserts by 2016. Wertz says to date Walmart has almost 100 such stores open.
Walmart and the Walmart Foundation has pledged up to $2 billion to fight hunger through 2015. Walmart stores in Florida donated 26.8 million pounds of food in fiscal year 2013, or the equivalent of 22.3 million meals. In the same year, Florida received more than $53.6 million in donated aid from Walmart.
Writer: Kathy Steele
Source: Shane Dellus and Bill Wertz, Walmart