Americans make an average of 1.5 trips to the grocery store per week. Grocery stores—and access to the healthier food choices they provide—are integral to eating habits and health. When they’re absent, or residents don’t have access to them, the U.S. Department of Agriculture designates these areas as “food deserts,” several of which are in Atlanta, Georgia.
Ronnie Frostig is a cashier at a Publix grocery store in Atlanta, Georgia, and says he has gotten to know some of the customers so well that they want to come see him at the register. For The Atlantic’s series of interviews with American workers, I spoke with Frostig about what his job entails, how he’s seen the city of Atlanta change around his store, and how he’s connected with customers by talking about running marathons. This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Adrienne Green: How did you come to work at the grocery store?
Ronnie Frostig: I was working with my dad at his store in Atlanta. His lease expired, and he had to close his store. After that, I was working at a wholesale beer and wine distributor, and about six months after that, I decided to go into the grocery business. That was in 1988.
In Atlanta, there was a big supermarket chain a few miles from where I lived. I was there for quite a number of years, at the same location, until A&P took over that chain. I lived in the area pretty much my whole life, and I just wanted to be of service to the community. I thought a grocery store would be the perfect fit for me. I’ve now worked at three different chains: Big Star, A&P, and Publix.