University Corner Store adds new pantry, food items

Following a survey conducted this past semester, the University of Rhode Island’s Corner Store, located inside Hope Commons, has increased its stock of fresh fruits, vegetables and bread, among other pantry items.

These changes came with an increase in business from last semester, according to Corner Store Manager Robin Foreman.

“This semester is busier than it was in the fall,” Foreman said, “And [the students] are coming in for the fresh fruits and vegetables and the salads.”

Salads and parfaits are now being offered in the Corner Store as well as Grab and Go’s, which, according to Foreman, the Corner Store has never had before. Other new items in the store include Beyond Meat (a vegan alternative to meat) and bread, which Foreman said the Corner Store had sold a few years ago as well. According to Foreman, it’s selling much better now than it did in the past.

The survey was sent out last semester by Ryleigh Mullins, a senior working for Dining Services. Pierre St. Germain, the director of dining services, said that the results of the survey were not surprising to him.

“Since I’ve got here, we’ve had students who’ve been asking for various things in the store,” St. Germain said. “It’s never something like snack foods, they always want something that they can cook in their rooms.”

Due to this, the survey also asked students what dates they would be most likely to cook, and found that those days were Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

The survey results showed that the three produce items students were most likely to purchase were seasonal fruits, avocados and salad mixes. As for non-produce items, the survey showed pasta, frozen meals, bread, butter and yogurt among the most requested items.

“Providing more grocery items is a huge plus to have on campus,” one anonymous comment in the survey read. “It would not only allow me to use the kitchen more but create and balance my own diet since I typically struggle getting a balanced diet with a minuscule meal plan. With more items, I would be shopping at the Corner Store way more often and overall make the kitchen feel like more of a bonus in the residence hall.”

According to the survey, 49.1 percent of students would be cooking for themselves and 30 percent would be cooking for themselves and one other student.

Additionally, a couple of new displays for the new items were added to the Corner Store. Foreman said that it was tough adding the displays with COVID-19 regulations, but the store’s staff made it work.

“You have to really think about how many kids are coming in, where they’re standing, where we’re putting things,” Foreman said. “I kind of rearranged the store in that way to make it socially distant and it works pretty well.”

Foreman also said there was a serious uptick in business at the Corner Store compared to last semester. Even when factoring in the drop in business due to COVID-19, she said that the new items were selling better than expected.

This may be the last time the store expands its inventory for a while, as the Corner Store has essentially filled its entire physical space. If they were to expand their space though St. Germain said that Dining Services would have plans for the future of the store.

“If there was some way to have another area on-campus where we might be serving students [snacks], then we could maybe convert the Corner Store into more of a bodega,” St. Germain said. 

This story was published in the Feb. 25, 2021 edition of the Good Five Cent Cigar.

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