Catalina Island, One of L.A. County’s Unofficial ‘Food Deserts,’ Parties Over New Grocery Store

Zachary Reitz, who has vacationed on Catalina Island since he was a child, holds his 3-year-old son Jace Reitz as he weighs fruit at the new Vons Avalon Market on Catalina Island. (Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

Zachary Reitz, who has vacationed on Catalina Island since he was a child, holds his 3-year-old son Jace Reitz as he weighs fruit at the new Vons Avalon Market on Catalina Island. (Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

When 22-year-old Blanca Alvarez comes back home to Catalina after four years at Columbia University in New York City, her first planned stop is the island’s new supermarket.

All year, family and friends sent the recent graduate photos, texts and videos from the Vons — treating it the way tourists from the mainland might sunbathing at the Descanso Beach Club or staring at the island’s famous buffaloes.

Located on the edge of downtown Avalon, Catalina’s only city, the Vons — not exactly a trendy and hip staple of Southern California’s grocer ecosystem — has become an unlikely phenomenon.

With stunning views and sparkling waters, “The Island of Romance” is not a government-designated “food desert,” a term for neglected, poor neighborhoods where affordable and fresh food is hard to find. But for decades, many of the island’s roughly 4,000 residents had to travel “over town” — Avalon-speak for the mainland — to buy many of their needs.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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