GW is bringing Supermarket Sundays to the Georgetown Safeway.
Students’ GWorlds will be credited $10 when they spend $40 on groceries at Safeway on Wisconsin Avenue every other Sunday, mirroring the program the University piloted at Whole Foods and the Safeway on MacArthur Boulevard last October. Students said they will likely stick with shopping at closer stores, like Whole Foods or Trader Joes, because the 25-minute bus ride or 30-minute walk to Safeway adds too much time to their grocery shopping.
University spokeswoman Crystal Nosal said officials launched the Supermarket Sundays program at the Georgetown location Oct. 27 because the program at the now-closed Safeway near the Mount Vernon Campus was “successful.”
“GW Dining was pleased with the initial turnout of students and is working with Safeway store officials to expand this program and will share these details with students as they are confirmed,” she said in an email.
Vern residents raised concerns about the lack of affordable and accessible food options near the satellite campus after the Safeway on MacArthur Boulevard closed. The GW Dining addition of a free shuttle running between the Vern and the Georgetown Safeway and the extension of Vern dining hall Pelham Commons’ hours of operation enhanced food accessibility on the Vern, Nosal said.
“Based on student feedback, GW Dining continues enhancing food options for Mount Vernon Campus residents including coordination with the Mount Vernon Campus vendor, SAGE Dining Services, to expand current dining operations,” Nosal said.
Malarie Zaunbrecher, a first-year graduate student, said Safeway’s Supermarket Sunday deal will relieve the stress she feels about budgeting enough money for food. She said she would use the $10 she would save from the deal to pay for transportation to get around the District or to finance an activity around D.C.
“That’s incredible, because one of the hardest things to save your money whenever you’re a student and you’re working 24/7 is food,” she said. “So just knowing that that would be one less thing to budget if possible would be amazing.”
But Hannah Westin, a freshman Vern resident, said Safeway is a more affordable grocery option than Whole Foods, but she can’t always grocery shop in Georgetown because the Vern shuttle times don’t always fit in her schedule.
“It’s a little tricky because the shuttles don’t run every day, they only run at specific times, so if it doesn’t work with your schedule, then it’s not super convenient,” she said.
Freshman and Vern resident Vibha Govindarajan said grocery prices at Safeway are a better deal than at Whole Foods, but she sometimes has to wait a long time to return to the Vern on the shuttle.
“Sometimes the services are a gamble because if you get there and the Safeway shuttle isn’t, there you have to wait almost an hour to two hours just for it to come back,” she said.
Emma Blackford, a freshman who lives on the Vern, said she was happy to find out that Safeway was a part of Supermarket Sundays because she and her friends already shop at Safeway on Sundays.
“I was really happy because I knew one of the things our resident advisers told us, they lived in West last year, and they said that there used to be a Safeway down the hill and that was really convenient,” Blackford said. “It was really annoying when they got rid of it, so I think it’s really good that we now have that.”
Sophomore Donna Yang said the discount isn’t worth the 25-minute bus ride to Georgetown when she can use the same discount at Whole Foods.
“I don’t think the discount is large enough for me to be like, ‘Yeah, I’m gonna head out to Georgetown,’” Yang said. “Since I’m an accounting major, I know the real costs of the discounts and I don’t feel like they actually work. It’s a scam.”
Mary Lungu, a junior and an RA on the Vern, said she occasionally uses the Supermarket Sundays deal at Whole Foods, but the 1 to 3 p.m. time slot during which the discount is available is too short.
“A lot of the time when I want to go to the Supermarket Sundays, it’s just such a short time period that I can’t really go anyway because it doesn’t fit into my schedule,” Lungu said.
Lia DeGroot and Ryan Conklin contributed reporting.