It’s official. In less than three weeks, students living on the Mount Vernon Campus will no longer have a nearby grocery store.
When the MacArthur Avenue Safeway closes, students will be scrambling to buy groceries at another nearby store, but they should not need to worry.
The upcoming closure of Safeway has exacerbated students’ concern about food insecurity on the Vern. Officials said they are scoping out potential vendors to add to students’ meal plans near the Vern, but they do not have a deadline to tell students when and what will be Safeway’s replacement. GW must invest in expanding its existing dining vendors on the Vern while they search for a replacement for Safeway.
For my past two semesters living in West Hall, I have relied on Safeway for convenient and affordable dining options I can keep in my residence hall room. With the grocery store set to close next month, I worry what students like me will have for food options because the campus is so limited. Whole Foods on the Foggy Bottom Campus is the next closest available grocery option on GWorld, but it is a far trek to transport my groceries between campuses.
The Vern does have a dining hall, but the hours are limited and officials should expand those to accommodate students. Pelham Commons currently serves lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and dinner from 5 to 9 p.m. The dining hall has a late-night grill, but it is only open from Monday to Thursday between 9 and 11 p.m. Heading back to the Vern late at night is common – especially as finals approach – and students should not have to come home to a closed dining hall when they are looking for a late-night snack after hours of studying. Pelham Commons should extend the number of hours it serves dinner or push the number of hours the late-night grill is open so students can return to an open food source.
On the weekends, finding open dining options is just as difficult for early birds as it is for night owls. There are no GWorld vendors near the Vern open early in the morning. Higher Grounds Cafe opens at 7:30 a.m. on weekdays but does not open until 10 a.m. on Saturday. The University should open Higher Grounds Cafe earlier on the weekends so students also have the option to eat early. If students will not have a nearby Safeway to buy coffee or breakfast items to keep in their residence hall rooms, officials need to give students a wider window of opportunity to buy meals at existing vendors on the Vern.
Hopefully, officials will find a vendor to replace Safeway and offer students the same affordable and nearby groceries. But the University does not know when Safeway’s replacement will be found, so officials need to take steps to help students in the interim. If the University is unable to add vendors, it must make changes to the number of hours GWorld vendors on the Vern are open to ensure students always have an option to purchase meals.
Shreeya Aranake, a freshman majoring in political science, is an opinions writer.
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