Groceries: From corporate to co-op

By Christina Oehler

Whether it is academics, finances or gossip, students have a variety of factors that are constantly influencing their daily decisions. Healthy living choices are no exception, and with the media constantly reminding students that “clean eating” and “buying local” are crucial to a well-rounded diet, it is hard to keep up with the latest eating trends on a college budget.

Champaign-Urbana is home to a many different grocery stores that can help provide inexpensive produce, wide varieties or healthy selections.

Walgreens

Location: 407 E. Green Street in Champaign

Pros:

Walgreens is convenient for students who live near campus or are constantly commuting to Green Street. Walgreens provides a variety of snack foods, drinks and some produce items. It also carries a wide variety of over-the-counter medications and injury remedies, with a selection large enough to cater to most common needs.

Cons:

Despite its close location, Walgreens does not have a very wide variety of produce items.

“Walgreens is only a block away from my apartment, so it is great for any necessities, but when it comes to produce, I usually can’t go there for most of the fruits and vegetables I want,” said Walgreens shopper Kristy Theisen, sophomore in Education.

Walmart

Location: 2610 N Prospect Ave. in Champaign

Pros:

Walmart prides itself on its low prices, which is perfect for the college-student budget. Not only does it provide fresh produce, but it is also a one-stop-shop for groceries and household needs.

Cons:

Because of its location on Prospect Avenue, it is very far from campus. For students who do not have frequent access to a car, it can become a chore to wait for a Champaign-Urbana Mass Transit District bus to go there and back.

Common Ground Co-Op

Location: 300 S. Broadway Suite 166 in Urbana

Pros:

Common Ground Food Co-Operative is a cooperatively owned grocery store, which means it is, according to its website, “owned by members of the community (like you!) who buy shares.” Common Ground sells produce from local Central Illinois farms, therefore supporting the local economy. “We have a really abundant selection of fresh and organic produce here,” said Joy Rust, Marketing Manager of Common Ground. “We know that the high quality comes with a cost, so we offer a huge variety of coupons for shoppers.”

Cons:

Common Ground is located in downtown Urbana, which is not walking distance from campus. For students who live in campus dorms or in Champaign, a car or bus ride might be the easiest way to get to Common Ground. Additionally, prices can be steep. “We have all of the high standards that go into providing locally grown and organic food, so the high quality does typically cost more.” Rust said.

County Market

Location: 331 E Stoughton St. in Champaign

Pros:

County Market provides a wide variety of fresh produce at a very convenient location. Because of the tight concentration of student apartments located around Stoughton Street, it’s easily accessible by many students. County Market is open 24 hours, seven days a week, which makes it a great place to pick up a snack when pulling an all-nighter. “It’s also a great place for students because it is so close to campus, and we have a full grocery store, which means we have a huge selection of foods.” said Scott Sanders, store director. “We also have a coffee shop inside our building, which is a great place for students to study.”

Cons:

The large selection of fresh produce also comes with a cost. “I love shopping at County Market for any fresh food, but it can get pricey,” said shopper Lisa Fernandez, sophomore in FAA. “Even though they sell some amazing food there, it isn’t practical to shop there every week.”

Sanders explains that there is a reason behind the prices on the produce.

“The fresh and organic foods we provide don’t last as long because they are free of additives,” Sanders said. “We pay more for them, which means they will be a more expensive sale.”

Christina can be reached at [email protected]