The Market changes hours from 24/7 to three days a week
Under new management, the food pantry has started new initiatives to be fully stocked
Starting this semester, The Market food pantry limited their hours in an effort to stay fully stocked for longer, according to Market staff.
Located in Mary Graydon Center room 308, The Market food pantry serves about 500 students. Relying on donations only, The Market offers canned goods, produce, frozen vegetables and snacks to anyone who applies for swipe access. Under new management this semester, The Market has transitioned from a 24/7 food pantry to open just three days a week for limited hours each day.
Matt Marooney, a senior in the School of Public Affairs who has worked at The Market for a year, said the new hours, as well as limits on the number of items students can take, aim to make The Market “more equitable.” Marooney understands the limiting hours of The Market are not ideal, but he believes that students are able to find something to eat every time they come in now.
“A big change was to make sure that we have inventory that lasts throughout the day so that people are comfortable with coming when they are free, rather than having to make sacrifices to come at an earlier time,” Marooney said.
Salvatore Cottone, a sophomore in SPA said when he used The Market at the end of last semester, the only thing he found was a jar of peanut butter. Although he finds The Market to be better stocked this semester, he wishes there were fewer item limitations.
“I'm actually really surprised by the amount of pre-packed frozen meals they have,” Cottone said. “But it was mainly hot pockets and stuff that’s really processed. Not really that healthy for me.”
After spring break, Esther Philip, the associate director for student engagement, installed a new freezer in The Market to stock more prepared foods. The AU Community Garden has also started donating produce to The Market.
“We think about the needs of our students and ways that we can improve the shopping experience,” Philip said. “We're starting to think about what are the things that's within our control that we can do that we can do over time that will make a difference for the way that students experience the market.”
However, some students are unable to rely on The Market due to limited hours. Talon Hyatt, a senior in the School of Communication, used to use The Market once a week, but does not anymore because they feel uncomfortable shopping there. The Market is now staffed during all operating hours.
“The last time I went was really weird because the door was open,” Hyatt said. “And there's two people sitting in there which made me very uncomfortable. I don’t like feeling like I’m being watched while I’m in there.”
Jules Losee, a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences and SOC, said they relied more on the Eagles Helping Eagles meal swipe program for full meals that keep them nourished. However, after participating in the program their junior year, Losee was denied from the program for their senior year.
“Actual meals definitely really, really helped my academic performance, mental health and physical health,” Losee said. “Now, there are days where I don't really eat that much because I don't have time or the money.”
Devon Benaroya, a freshman in CAS, saw his peers running out of meal swipes, so he started an Instagram account called AU Mealswipe Mutual Aid to set up exchanges between students who have extra meal swipes and those who run out or need more.
“A student shouldn't have to make an Instagram account to make sure that their classmates are eating during finals week,” Benaroya said. “It's something that time and time again, has seemed to have been ignored. And that's really frustrating.”
To increase donations, The Market started a new initiative called Adopt a Market where they partner with student organizations to fundraise for the food pantry. For the month of Ramadan, The Market partnered with the Muslim Student Association.
“We have a lot of different partnerships and we’re looking into moving forward with some partnerships in the D.C. area so that that way we can hopefully provide even more in the future,” Philip said.
Hyatt wishes the University funded The Market’s stock to improve its operations, instead of relying solely on donations. They said deciding between hours of operation and whether or not The Market should be fully stocked is a “lesser of two evils type deal.”
“The school has enough money to make sure that no student on our campus goes hungry and they still choose to let it happen,” Hyatt said.
This article was edited by Kylie Bill and Abigail Pritchard. Copy editing done by Isabelle Kravis and Stella Guzik.