Students lament meal plan options amid delayed Ram City Market opening

The Ram City Market is expected to have a fall opening. Photo by Clare Wislar

Rachel Marcus, Contributing Writer

Sophomore English student Maddie Rees said the school “needs more vegan and vegetarian options.”

Student Grace Coyne said that due to her dietary restrictions, she isn’t able to eat at many of the restaurants included in the meal plan.

Sophomore engineering student Allyson Juárez said she isn’t getting a balanced diet. They said they wished there were healthier choices available. 

Sophomore Kaitlin Morrell said VCU has too many unhealthy, or fast food restaurants, on the meal plan. Similarly, Juárez said she would like to see more restaurants that aren’t fast food. 

VCU announced a new on-campus grocery store fall 2021 with predictions to open that semester or the next, according to a previous Commonwealth Times report. Ram City Market is yet to be inaugurated.

Anna Obermiller, the university business services communications specialist, said the delay was caused by “awaiting permits and inspection approvals,” but they expect a fall opening. 

The market is hoping to be an on-campus grocery store for Richmond and VCU communities to shop for dry groceries, fresh produce, to-go meals and more, according to Obermiller. Ram City Market will accept dining dollars and swipes for to-go meals.

Reilly Leahy, English and History double major, said they are glad the Ram City Market is being built.

“If that had been implemented when I was on campus, it would have made life a lot easier. I’m glad that it’s something that they’re doing,” Leahy said.

Youngmi Kim, associate professor in the VCU School of Social Work, studied food insecurity on VCU’s campus. She conducted a study which involved three focus groups, with approximately six to eight students each, during early spring 2020, according to her website

Kim used purposive sampling, which is a sampling technique in which a researcher relies on their own judgment when choosing members of the population to participate in their study, according to the Business Research Methodology. She used the USDA Food Security Short Scale to screen the students involved, according to her website

Through her study, Kim found that students are not able to easily access healthy foods, due to transportation, time and cost. Student’s academic performance, physical health and mental health are all impacted by food insecurity, according to Kim. 

VCUarts student Ian Covert said he did not feel like he was getting a balanced diet through the school’s dining plan, and said his freshman year diet consisted of “chicken and fries.”

Currently, VCU offers 22 different locations across two campuses, according to the university website. Some locations are: 

  • Steak N’ Shake: University Student Commons
  • Za’atar: University Student Commons 
  • Shake Smart: Shafer Court Dining Center
  • Au Bon Pain: 944 W. Grace St.  
  • AVO Kitchen: 355 West Cary St. 
  • Bento Sushi: Laurel & Grace Place 
  • Subway: University Student Commons 
  • Twisted Taco: 810 Cathedral Place
  • Bleecker St.: VCU School of Business 
  • Chick-fil-A: University student Commons 

For more dining locations, menus, nutrition facts, hours and location for each restaurant are all listed on the VCU Dine website

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply