Students living on the Mount Vernon Campus can now stop by Ames Hall to purchase a frozen meal, snack or hygiene products.
The “C-Store,” which officials opened at the start of the spring semester as an add-on to Higher Grounds Cafe, offers products like frozen meals, pizzas and over-the-counter medicine. In interviews with 15 students who live on the Vern, more than 10 said having access to a wider variety of food will help alleviate food insecurity concerns and provide quick access to products they typically have to travel to the Foggy Bottom Campus to purchase.
University Spokeswoman Crystal Nosal said officials decided to add the store after the Palisades neighborhood Safeway closed in May. She said the store offers a “variety” of items like frozen meals, fresh fruit, milk, eggs and “personal goods.”
“GW has listened to students’ requests to have greater availability of grocery and sundry items at the Mount Vernon Campus,” Nosal said in an email.
Officials will offer new products on an “ongoing” basis but will not add a location to the Foggy Bottom Campus, which she said already boasts a wide variety of food and grocery options.
Nosal added that officials chose which products to offer at the C-Store based on responses to the “Vern Dining Product Survey” dining officials and Vern leadership sent to students last September. Officials also issued a general survey about students’ dining and housing habits last fall.
“Items being sold were chosen based on feedback from numerous discussions with student leaders,” she said.
Tyler Kusma, a West Hall resident adviser, said the C-Store gives students the option to quickly pick up a meal, especially after Pelham Commons’ grill closes on the weekends.
Pelham Commons’ late-night grill is currently open between 11:30 a.m. and midnight Monday through Thursday. The grill operates from 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Saturdays and is closed on Sundays, according to the dining website.
Kusma said students had trouble easily accessing hygiene products and food after the Palisades neighborhood Safeway. Officials added a shuttle running to and from the Safeway in Georgetown to give students access to affordable groceries after the Palisades Safeway shuttered.
“The University has been good about taking different steps to address those kinds of food issues,” Kusma said. “For instance, we got the same Vern Express that runs three times a week.”
Mikaela Tajo, a West Hall resident adviser, said the C-Store could help her residents pick up toiletries.
“This is something that my residents would definitely like because, in the same way that I struggle with it, they also have to struggle with it,” Tajo said. “It can really suck if you run out of something in the middle of the day, or like in the day, you don’t want to go back to Foggy to get something.”
She said adding everyday ingredients – like eggs, flour and oil – would be useful for Vern students to use in a pinch when preparing meals in Vern residence halls.
“I think this will be really good because it’s a way for residents to not have to rely on cooked meals,” she said. “If there are certain ingredients that they can get, like eggs, for example, they can cook for themselves.”
Lauren Bryant, a freshman and second-floor West Hall resident, said she likely won’t use the C-Store because it offers similar food, like pizza, as what’s offered at Pelham Commons. She said she would prefer if administrators added healthier food options, like fresh fruits and vegetables, instead of the frozen meals and pre-packaged snacks.
“I do see stocking frozen products that aren’t necessary to be reheated, like things that have to be and stay frozen, like ice cream,” Brian said. “It’s hard to bring that from Safeway to the Vern.”
She added that she is typically stocked up on medicines like Advil and NyQuil, but offering Benadryl at the C-Store could save students a trip to CVS in the event of an allergic reaction.
“That actually would have been really helpful because my friend was over a little while ago and they felt like they were having allergic reaction, so we had to go all the way to CVS on the Foggy Bottom Campus,” she said.
Tara Jennings contributed reporting.