Until store opens, H-E-B bringing other food options to Del Valle


Grocery chain H-E-B has the land it needs to build a supermarket near the Austin airport in Del Valle, but it could take a few years before there’s enough people living in the area to support building the store, a company executive said Saturday.

For residents living near the site — a 17.2-acre tract at the southeast corner of FM 973 and Texas 71 — that means another few years of living in what is known as a food desert, where getting to the nearest grocery store involves a 10- to 15-mile trip.

But in the meantime, officials announced Saturday several alternative ways to bring food to the area through public-private partnerships.

H-E-B will partner with Austin nonprofit Farmshare to set up a mobile market where organic, affordable produce will be sold out of a food truck at a location to be determined, Leslie Sweet, H-E-B director of public affairs in Central Texas, told a press conference Saturday. Farmshare hosts these markets weekly at several locations already.

The two also will work to increase food production in Del Valle by growing crops on a portion of the H-E-B site.

In partnership with the Central Texas Food Bank, H-E-B will also fund a mobile food pantry serving students at a Del Valle school to be determined. The program includes not only food distribution but also nutrition education in multiple languages.

“Del Valle, we’re committed to you, we’re committed to you not just in the long term when we can build an H-E-B site, but we’re committed to you today to get out here and continue the fight to get healthy food access to your families,” Sweet said.

Jeff Thomas, H-E-B senior vice president and general manager, said the company often buys land a few years in advance of building as it waits for the market to catch up.

“We’ll continue to monitor the growth of the area, and as soon as the time is right, believe me, I’ll be the first one to push the buttons to help get it going here,” Thomas said.

The projects announced Saturday come as a result of the Spirit of East Austin initiative launched in 2015 with the goal of receiving public input on how to create transformative development in the area.

The city also announced Saturday a new website for the initiative at spiritofeastaustin.org where officials plan to give updates and collect input through surveys.

For some, like Roy Woody, 36, Travis County Democratic Party chair of Precinct 407, the new H-E-B can’t come soon enough. Woody helped collect more than 1,000 signatures on a petition to bring a grocery store to Del Valle a few years ago and said he felt encouraged by Saturday’s news.

“My hope is that this will kick off to bigger and better things for the area, not just a grocery store but community centers, more jobs,” Woody said.

Ron Wattinger, 51, a longtime Del Valle resident and former Del Valle school trustee, said he also felt encouraged by the news, but said he worries that the lack of infrastructure in the area will deter H-E-B from starting to build any time soon. For one thing, the state needs to finish the work on Texas 71, he said.

“As much as we all want this here, what we’ve been saying through the school district for years is that we have to have the infrastructure to support it,” Wattinger said. “Until we get the infrastructure, great partners like H-E-B can’t do what they need to do.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Blood pressure guidelines changed, and that wasn’t good for this woman’s mother
Blood pressure guidelines changed, and that wasn’t good for this woman’s mother

Last summer, during a routine visit by my 92-year-old mother to a cardiologist for a pacemaker check, her systolic blood pressure registered a dangerously high 220, over 94, a reading that sent her - and me - on a difficult journey through changing recommendations about blood pressure goals.    Her pressure had been 150 - that's the systolic...
Funeral arrangements set for former Austin Bishop John McCarthy
Funeral arrangements set for former Austin Bishop John McCarthy

A funeral Mass and burial for retired Austin Diocese Bishop John McCarthy will take place Friday afternoon in Round Rock. McCarthy, who led the Catholic Diocese of Austin for 15 years and was known for interreligious work and dedication to the poor, died Saturday at his home at the age of 88, church officials announced Sunday. There will be a public...
Whataburger, meet Pluckers. This Twitter user’s suggestion made Texans miss something they never even had
Whataburger, meet Pluckers. This Twitter user’s suggestion made Texans miss something they never even had

Some hypotheticals aren’t meant to remain so. Some are meant to be eaten. Twitter user @Ob36 took to the site last week to suggest a collaboration: Pluckers, meet Whataburger. More specifically the proposition included a Pluckers dipping sauce to be sold at Whataburger, and a Whataburger hamburger to be sold at Pluckers: Pluckers responded to...
Man charged in theft of $192,800 from Alabama casino
Man charged in theft of $192,800 from Alabama casino

A federal judge on Friday denied bond for one man and dismissed charges against another man accused of robbing $192,800 from an Alabama casino last week, the Montgomery Advertiser reported. >> Read more trending news  Timothy Dean Pettiway and Jory D’Michael Travunn Dumas were arrested Tuesday after they were accused of stealing...
Driver, 28, killed after crashing into traffic light pole in New Braunfels
Driver, 28, killed after crashing into traffic light pole in New Braunfels

A 28-year-old woman was killed early Monday when the pickup she was driving slammed into the metal pole of a traffic light in New Braunfels, police said. The driver, Liliana Fraire of Guadalupe County, crashed in the intersection of FM 725 and South Bank Boulevard shortly before 2:20 a.m., authorities said in a statement. Fraire had been driving south...
More Stories