Illustration by Tess Wladar

Nicholas Barahona, Contributing Author

Ram Metropolis Market — have you ever heard of it? In case you haven’t, let me introduce you to what’s set to be the brand new place for all meals and necessities on campus. Situated between Panda Categorical and Insomnia Cookies on West Grace Avenue, this market shall be open to college students and other people throughout the Richmond and VCU neighborhood — if it ever opens, that’s.

Presently, the area between these two meals institutions on West Grace Avenue is unoccupied, and it has been for a while. From April 2015 to July 2019, a “Walmart on Campus” mini-grocery retailer occupied this spot. Walmart opened as a pilot program, and after gathering knowledge taken from its 4 years contained in the VCU neighborhood, it closed store.

These of you who had been right here when the campus Walmart was open positively keep in mind how simple it was to get something you wanted with out making a hike to the closest grocery retailer. Even with the occasional lengthy strains, its centralized location and proximity to college students made it extremely handy.

Senior enterprise info methods scholar Carlos Farias stated that Walmart was a “essential spot” that college students used to choose up “on a regular basis consuming necessities” with out touring too far.

“Being a freshman and in dorms with no kitchen accessible, it’s laborious to discover a good meal that isn’t the identical outdated choices that you just accept at VCU,” Farias stated.

Evidently, an on-campus grocery retailer is required for VCU college students. In August 2021, VCU Information reported that Ram Metropolis Market would substitute the Walmart, with an anticipated opening date in “late fall or early spring.” There have been no public updates since then.

We can not understate how rampant meals insecurity is amongst school college students, which is why it’s so essential for the college to take rapid motion to deal with these issues. Youngmi Kim, affiliate professor within the VCU Faculty of Social Work, discovered that about 35% of VCU college students expertise meals insecurity, with limitations together with transportation and restricted funds.

Transportation particularly is a big downside. The Kroger and Entire Meals on Broad Avenue are the closest grocery shops to VCU. Kroger is roughly a 20 minute stroll from VCU; Entire Meals is a 26 minute stroll. The GRTC Pulse is an possibility, although it comes with its personal challenges reminiscent of carrying all of your groceries on the bus. 

In case you do not need a automobile on campus, how are you anticipated to make the journey to get every little thing you actually need? It’s unrealistic to imagine many can and can make this trek.

Having been a VCU scholar for some time now, I’ve grown accustomed to the empty area on West Grace Avenue. Nevertheless, Walmart closed virtually three years in the past. We waited two years, and nothing. Regardless of Ram Metropolis Market being named because the alternative early final semester, the main points appear to be shrouded in secrecy, and there may be nothing to indicate for. The date for the grand opening? I couldn’t let you know.

Strolling previous the unit the place the market is about to be, you’ll find a “Coming Quickly” signal and the deal with @vcu_dining on Instagram for anybody keen on updates in regards to the market. I can prevent the difficulty in doing so and let you know what I discovered after scouring the account — nothing. Not one replace has been given for the reason that preliminary announcement.

Alas, all we now have to go off of is the preliminary article launched six months in the past by VCU Information that said the market can be opening in late fall or early spring. Nicely, fall was final semester and spring break is subsequent week — am I lacking one thing right here?

Whereas the dearth of progress and updates about Ram Metropolis Market has been disappointing, I’m impressed by what VCU has finished with Ram Pantry and Little Ram Pantries, initiatives to deal with meals insecurity throughout the RVA neighborhood. These have been nice undertakings, however we will’t cease there. Finalizing Ram Metropolis Market is the subsequent step to addressing this long-standing downside at our college.

As a scholar at VCU, I name on the college to produce updates to its neighborhood concerning the market. The shortage of transparency has led me to imagine this isn’t a precedence in VCU’s eyes. The longer it’s not up, the longer the continued difficulty stands with college students not having a handy and accessible place to purchase meals, resulting in better meals insecurity inside our neighborhood.


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