EMBARK, local churches offering free rides after northeast Oklahoma City grocery store closes

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OKLAHOMA CITY - For decades, residents in northeast Oklahoma City have walked to a store at a busy intersection to buy their groceries.

Steve Burton, who is now in his 50s, remembers doing it as a child.

"I used to walk from the neighborhood back here to the store every day to get stuff for my family," Burton said.

When Smart Saver closed its doors on Monday, it left many people in limbo.

"Feel forgotten," Burton said. "It's hard not to have a store here. It's 10 miles away to go to a store now."

Officials say the closure caused a big problem for many residents who aren't able to drive. That's why EMBARK, along with local churches and community members, are stepping up.

They're lending a hand in the form of free rides to other grocery stores that residents are not able to reach by walking.

"This was a single father and his daughter," recalled Wilburn Young, with Prospect Baptist Church. "They had no transportation but they live in this area. They had to walk to get groceries and now we provided them transportation to go and get whatever they need at a grocery store."

They're offering free, handicap-capable transportation. Church volunteers say they will even drop people off at their home, as long as it is within a reasonable distance.

Their kindness is extended until a more permanent solution is found.

"We hope to see the area would establish another grocery store that would be able to meet the needs of this community," Young said.

Councilwoman Nikki Nice has started a food resources task force for northeast side residents. You can visit the website for the task force here.

EMBARK rides are available Monday through Saturday from 7 to 10 a.m. and then from 4 to 7 p.m.

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