Everything Convenience, the general store on campus that sells groceries, snacks and toiletries, has responded to a longtime request from the student body to sell fresh produce.
The produce available at ETC now ranges from fruits and berries, such as apples, bananas, strawberries and blueberries, to vegetables including carrots, peppers, potatoes and spinach. ETC also stocks lemons, limes, garlic and bread items, such as bread loaves and bagels.
“Fresh produce has been a frequent request of students," Eliot Cleveland, the manager of ETC, said in an email. "We felt it was important to honor this request as we do with other requests. We tested this concept with our guacamole kits last year, and got enough support from students to move forward with a larger concept.”
Students who live on campus in University Forest Apartments or Gateway Village typically sign up for the Spider 40 meal plan, a plan that provides 40 swipes into the Heilman Dining Center and $1,010 dining dollars that can be used at all Dining Services cafes, restaurants and convenience stores on campus, according to the Dining Services website.
This new produce selection provides students the opportunity to shop for fresh groceries on campus using pre-paid dining dollars. For these students, it has made grocery shopping more convenient and has expanded their choice of meals they can make without having to go off campus to a grocery store.
"Throughout my first three years at the university, I didn't make the best food choices when shopping at ETC," senior Marco Latella, who lives in Gateway Village, said. "Its food options weren't always as healthy as I would have liked. However, since this change, making healthy and delicious food choices has never been more convenient, especially since students are always in a hurry."
Calum Johnson, a senior who lives in an off-campus house, agreed it was a positive change for ETC, even though he lives in close proximity to a grocery store.
“I haven’t checked it out yet, but I am intrigued and would love to grab some potatoes, vegetables or fresh garlic on my way home at the end of the day," Johnson said. "It does seem very convenient. It is all price-based for me.”
For many students, the price is often a deciding factor in shopping for groceries and other items. ETC has now started labeling the prices of items, something it hadn’t previously done. Cleveland explained how this decision was made.
“This was in response to comments in the annual NACUFS (National College and University Food Services) customer satisfaction survey," Cleveland said. "Respondents wanted clearer pricing to help in their purchasing decisions.”
The produce prices are similar to prices at Target, a common place for university students to grocery shop, with limes costing 49 cents each and bell peppers 82 cents each. Senior Madison Sweitzer said she thought the prices were reasonable.
“It’s so great to be able to use my dining dollars towards food that is healthy and fresh, and especially in an apartment, it saves a lot of grocery-store runs," Sweitzer said. "It’s so far always been fresh, and pretty reasonably priced. I’ve eaten a record number of blueberries this week.”
Although ETC doesn’t currently have any future changes planned, students are encouraged to send suggestions through the UR Heard portal. Cleveland said ETC was always open to suggestions.
Contact lifestyle writer Louise Howorth at firstname.lastname@example.org.