Hy-Vee announces initiatives to help residents impacted by First Avenue store closure

Free grocery delivery, free shuttle among company’s plans in response to city leaders’ concerns

Hy-Vee First Avenue NE Cedar Rapids
The Hy-Vee store at 1556 First Ave. NE in Cedar Rapids. CREDIT RICHARD PRATT

Hy-Vee officials have heard the concerns about the upcoming closure of the Hy-Vee store on First Avenue NE in Cedar Rapids – and they’re taking action.

In the wake of meetings with Cedar Rapids city leaders regarding concerns surrounding the unexpected announcement that the Hy-Vee store at 1556 First Ave. NE would close June 23, Hy-Vee officials have announced a series of new initiatives designed to lessen the impact of the closure and help neighborhood residents meet their basic food needs.

“No business wants to close a location, and that certainly includes Hy-Vee,” Hy-Vee spokesperson Tina Potthoff said in a statement May 22. “Over the past several weeks, we have listened to community leaders and residents about the impact of our store closures in Cedar Rapids, Waterloo and Davenport. Unfortunately, these three stores have each been losing significant amounts of money for several years, and they are simply not feasible for us to operate any longer. However, we have been working to implement viable solutions to ease the transition for the community.”

Ms. Potthoff provided a list of initiatives Hy-Vee is undertaking to help residents near the First Avenue NE store:

  • Free transportation – Hy-Vee will provide a free shuttle from each impacted store location to the Hy-Vee store where pharmacy prescriptions will be transferred. This will allow customers to get groceries and receive their medications at the Oakland Road Hy-Vee in Cedar Rapids, the Crossroads Hy-Vee in Waterloo, and the West Locust Hy-Vee in Davenport. The shuttle service will run three days a week for four hours at a time to accommodate various schedules. The free shuttles will run on a designated schedule starting the week of June 24 through Sept. 1. At that time, we will reevaluate their use by the community. More information will be shared once we finalize routes with our transportation partners.
  • Free grocery delivery – Hy-Vee will provide free grocery delivery to all residents within a one-mile radius of each store that is closing for one year when they sign up for the service. Sign-up will begin June 10, and more details will be announced closer to that date. Free delivery will continue through June 23, 2025. A minimum order of $24.95 will be required.
  • Continuation of free pharmacy delivery – Hy-Vee will continue to provide free pharmacy delivery to Cedar Rapids, Waterloo and Davenport residents. We have done this for the past several years for all residents in these cities and will continue to do so.
  • No lease restrictions – Hy-Vee is actively working with landlords to try to fill the spaces at each location so that the property does not stay vacant once we close our store. We are not placing a “use restriction” on any of these three locations.
  • Increased food bank assistance – Hy-Vee is partnering with HACAP in Cedar Rapids, River Bend Food Bank in Davenport and Northeast Iowa Food Bank in Waterloo to fund, supply and staff several food distribution events in July and August to help local families in need while school is out for the summer. In Cedar Rapids and Davenport, we will support a mobile food pantry in the parking lot of the First Avenue Hy-Vee and Hy-Vee on Rockingham Road twice a month. Notification for the events will be provided to neighborhoods surrounding each location in late June. In Waterloo, additional protein, like meat and peanut butter, will be donated by Hy-Vee to the food bank to assist families in need since a mobile unit is not available at this location.

“We value our customers and communities,” Ms. Potthoff added. “As a major employer in the area, we remain committed to supporting our local schools, food banks and other nonprofit organizations. It’s what we’ve always done and will continue to do.”

Cedar Rapids Mayor Tiffany O’Donnell and City Manager Jeff Pomeranz each issued statements May 22 following a meeting with Hy-Vee representatives this week – a meeting requested by city leaders after Hy-Vee announced the store closure plan May 9.

“Our meeting with community leaders last week identified priorities to ensure residents can continue to access essential services after the store closes,” Ms. O’Donnell said. “We brought these concerns to our meeting with Hy-Vee, focusing on things like grocery delivery charges, no-cost pharmaceutical deliveries, and partnerships with transportation providers and local food-access services for additional assistance during the transition. It was a positive meeting. We will continue to support efforts to address these challenges and meet our community’s needs.”

“Hy-Vee’s representatives demonstrated a clear understanding of the challenges and a commitment to collaborating on beneficial solutions,” Mr. Pomeranz added. “They focused on supporting our community members during the transition, and the discussion led to several promising solutions. Hy-Vee also indicated they are working with the property owner to avoid vacancy after the store’s closure and they will not place any use restrictions on the location, which is a positive sign. We are encouraged by their cooperation and hope we can continue working with them to ensure a smooth transition for our residents.”