By Ben Nance–

On the morning of Friday, Sept. 23, students participated in a grocery store tour as part of the Basic Pantry Program on campus. The event took place at ValuMarket in Mid City Mall, and was organized and led by Karen S. Newton, Director of the Office of Health Promotion & Well Being. Newton, a registered dietitian, explained how the tour gives students a real-life experience of how to buy and then plan to prepare their own food. “I see this as a way to guide students to become critical thinkers about, ‘Where does food come from?’, ‘How do I access it?’ and ‘What do I do with it once I go home?’”

To allow for free transportation, tour participants were invited to travel from campus to ValuMarket via TARC bus. Once everyone arrived, the tour began at the store’s produce section, continued into the dairy aisle and concluded in frozen meats. Students asked questions on various health topics along the way, such as how to incorporate tofu into other dishes, the benefits of soft drink moderation, and the current popularity of Greek yogurt. Everyone in the group received complimentary shopping bags courtesy of Sustainability Council and ValuMarket. Inside each bag was a booklet of coupons, a folder with nutritional tips and a Basic Pantry shopping list.

While emphasizing the importance of maintaining a healthy diet, the tour also addressed the cost-efficient benefits of buying individual ingredients instead of prepackaged meals. Students were able to use this newfound knowledge, along with their provided shopping lists, as guidelines to help them purchase groceries. The Office of Health Promotion gave everyone $10 to use in the store after the tour ended. For some students, this was an ideal opportunity to obtain a well-balanced supply of healthy food items.

“It’s such a great idea, when you’re new to buying for yourself, to have some guidance on what you need to keep in your pantry,” said graduate student Triza Cox. Other students’ interest in the tour stemmed from a desire to start feeling healthier.

“What drew me to health food, initially, was being tired all the time, feeling heavy. I started experimenting in all kinds of health food options,” said Courtney Rhodes, an undergraduate.
The second date for the grocery tour is Friday, Oct. 28, from 12:30-3:00 p.m. The tour will meet at the Office of Health Promotion, located in the Student Services Annex.