College students have many things in common, such as being weighed down by homework or stressed about their next exam. Another battle that most students face is the grocery list.
There are multiple places in Topeka to get groceries, but unfortunately, only one is within walking distance from campus: The Corner Store.
In February 2016, the Dillons at 1400 SW Huntoon closed its doors permanently. This left central Topeka, including Washburn, with a food desert. A food desert is an urban area where there is limited access to affordable and/or fresh food stores. The closest grocery store is a Dillons almost two miles away.
Students on campus have two primary options: go to the Corner Store, or travel to Fairlawn or Wanamaker.
“When I shop at the corner store it’s not for groceries. If I get anything there its either a drink or a snack. That’s like once every month, if that,” said junior criminal justice major Jake Broadbent, who lives in the Washburn Village.
Kaitlyn Rohr, junior international business and Spanish major, finds it frustrating to travel for groceries.
“There’s no grocery store that’s within five minutes of Washburn, which is kind of annoying. I go to Dillon’s for groceries and Walmart for things,” said Rohr.
Senior economic major Yusuke Ito also shops at Dillons and Walmart, but switched primarily to Walmart due to transportation access.
“I go shopping once a week, spending 40-50 bucks,” said Ito. “I often buy frozen foods instead of fresh, because frozen is cheaper, and it lasts longer. This semester I only go to Walmart because of my apartment’s location, but last year I went to Dillon’s because I had a discount card there. I feel like they have better food than Walmart.”
Some students, such as Yue Li, senior painting and drawing major, travel to Lawrence or Kansas City to Asian market stores for specialty items.
“If I have time on weekends I go to Lawrence. There is a market called F-Mart with a lot of Asian foods. And then if I had more time I would go to 888 Market in Overland Park,” said Li. “Normally we don’t go that much because it’s kind of far, and I don’t want to spend lots of time driving just to go get some food.”
For convenience, Li sometimes shops at the Corner Store, even though it can get pricey.
“If I don’t have time to prepare my lunch for tomorrow I just go to the Corner Store…it’s a little expensive. That’s why I usually don’t go and buy unless I have to,” said Li.
According to Coordinator of International Student Recruitment and Retention Andy Vogel, like the Dillons close to campus, a Malaysian grocery store that many international students shopped at closed down as well.
“We [now] see more students go to Kansas City [for specialty Asian ingredients]. Historically, we take them to Kansas City to do shopping at least once a semester,” said Vogel.
Transportation can be a struggle whether you are traveling to Kansas City or just across town. Topeka Metro has a partnership with Washburn so that any students with a valid Washburn I.D. can travel on the buses for free.
Students often complain about the overpriced goods at the Corner Store, but that is a common outcome of the lack of supply and the high demand on campus. Below are the comparisons of various different grocery stores and their prices, all with the same grocery list.
Edited by Adam White, Jason Morrison