As I step into the new Mercado Gonzalez located on 2300 Harbor Blvd in Costa Mesa, I feel two emotions.
At first I am filled with happiness. The familiar sounds, decorations and people surrounding me make me smile. Then right after, there was a lump in my throat and I felt like crying.
The feeling of sadness is overwhelming. When I look around and see all the familiar things I once had in my community. I see a community that once gathered right across the street to where I live and ask myself, “Why is this place not in my community?”
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Why did we not get the upgrade or expand within the block? And if that was “too much” to ask for, why did Northgate turn their back on us and build a different one, away from us.
As I walked around, I met people that were also from Santa Ana and came to the Mercado and also mentioned the removal of it, which made me feel less alone.
I live at the Spectrum apartments on 4th street in Downtown Santa Ana, which houses over 1,000 people.The removal of our Northgate from across the street has not only affected me but the whole community.
LAS VOCES DE SANTA ANA: How the loss of Northgate left a void in Downtown Santa Ana’s Latino community
A Latino community that depended on Northgate, and has now turned my community into a food desert.
The Northgate, located on 409 E 4th St. was used and needed among the neighboring households. It was one of the biggest factors on why people decided to live near that area. Northgate was a place that connected all of us, and gave us Mexican products for a number of years. Why did Northgate not continue to help and stay for the communities they so call care about?
Many of my neighbors are older people who would go to Northgate and buy food without having to struggle. Now many of them have to take a one-to-two hour bus ride, ask for a ride, or sometimes even walk to a different Northgate. When it was still here, we just had to cross the street. The accessibility allowed us to get food, snacks, sodas and last minute vegetables quickly and ready to use.
Many may argue that we are not in a food desert, that we have a Food 4 Less behind us. Yes, we do have another grocery outlet near us, but Food 4 Less doesn’t carry the same ingredients as Northgate did. The chiles my mom makes for salsas, the cut and quality of meat, the fruit, and other condiments that Northgate has, Food 4 less doesn’t carry or sell.
Other Northagtes around OC should get the same changes as the one in Costa Mesa and continue to help and stay around the community it claims to represent. The Latino community made Northgate successful, because if it wasn’t for them, Northgate would not be the big corporation it is now.
I am not saying that Northgate shouldn’t be built in other areas, but Northgate’s owners shouldn’t have turned against the place that was meant for our community. They should give the same treatment and stay with the community that has been loyal to them for years.
As I made my way to the exit, I got choked up because even though I can drive I think of my community members back in Santa Ana that no longer have a Northgate accessible to them.
They no longer have a place close by that reminds them of their culture.