Whole Foods Market, an organic food specialty store, recently opened in Riverdale Park, Md. The market is part of a city-wide plan to develop areas in the county.

Whole Foods Market recently opened in the county on April 12. (Photo by Lindi Vilakazi)

Riverdale is the first municipal within the county to add the chain. Whole Foods is known as an organic market that provides fresher and healthier quality foods compared to its competing food entities. The new store’s location opened on April 12.

“Whole Foods was a top economic development priority for the county and providing high quality food choices was one of the reasons,” County-wide Planning Division Chief Derick Berlage told the AFRO April 24. “It wasn’t the only reason. It’s also about linking the Route 1 corridor which we call our Gateway Arts corridor and it was about continuing the terrific mixed use development that’s taking place in the Route 1 corridor and this is part of that too.”

The Washington Post reported that the store stands as an anchor to a $250 million development that, when completed, is slated to be a town center  with single-family and multifamily homes, restaurants and retail in a growing part of the county with access to Metro’s Green Line and the University of Maryland at College Park campus.

Mimi Taff said she traveled to the Riverdale Whole Foods while visiting her brother in the area. Although it is not as close to her home in Upper Marlboro, Md., she is very pleased with the new Whole Foods location, as the closest Whole Foods to her home is in Annapolis, Md.

“This is shockingly great. This is probably the closest area that my brother can come and shop as far as healthy foods stores,” Taff told the AFRO.

According to Berlage, the county is conducting research to demystify findings from the USDA in 2013 in regards to food deserts. However, Berlage has stated that the agency’s findings did not stray from USDA reports.

Jameelah Malik, a Prince George’s County resident who lives in College Park, Md., which was identified as a food desert by USDA in 2015, told the AFRO that she is happy about the new Whole Foods store, but says she does not plan on becoming a regular customer. “I just wanted to go there for the experience. The prices are very high,” she said.

Despite the high prices, Malik does feel that the new Whole Foods prices are worth it for the healthier food options that are available. She said she believes the store will bring needed revenue to the community.

Since its opening, the store has attracted a diverse customer base. Additionally, many neighboring college students are frequenting the new location, as it is only less than 2 miles from the University of Maryland and the Prince George’s Plaza Mall.