For Temple students, the Fresh Grocer at Progress Plaza is the only major grocery store near Main Campus.
And sure, being on an urban campus means students have access to two subway stops at their disposal, not to mention busses, but that also means a lot of students don’t have access to cars as a form of transportation.
That means lugging large grocery purchases across campus to respective apartments or dorms becomes a larger hassle. But grocery stores are catching on, and they’re delivering a solution.
Mike Roker, who got the ball rolling on Whole Foods’ delivery service earlier this year, said that its system can help feed people who may otherwise live in an area without access to fresh food.
“We thought it would be really cool, there are a lot of people who can’t make it to us,” Roker said. “So we started the delivery service.”
Whole Foods delivers within the boundaries of Front to 20th streets and from Arch to Tasker streets. Roker said the fact that they only deliver on bikes hinders them from extending those boundaries.
“I think we’re doing a really great job,” Roker said. “A lot of people like our service. It’s been pretty strong.”
Delivery service is free, but the minimum purchase is $30 and a maximum of four, full bags. Whole Foods staffs five to six delivery workers at a time, and delivers from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The grocery store is alone in the area in terms of delivery service, but a Superfresh is located just across the street from Whole Foods on South Street. However, patrons have to get there to get their groceries.
Though Whole Foods isn’t pedaling bikes far enough to reach Temple, students can still access fresh groceries and much more because of a new service, started by a recent Temple alumnus Guan Zheng, called College Mart Express. Zheng said he was sick of having to walk the 20-minute walk to the Fresh Grocer or shell out large amounts of money at corner stores, so he started the delivery service to give college students access to fresh groceries without having to leave their apartment or dorm.
He started it while he was a student, but when delivery orders became too much to handle, he had to suspend his endeavors until after graduation. Now that he’s out, the business is up and running again.
“We deliver more than groceries,” Zheng said. “Basically anything you can find at the Fresh Grocer, and products from places like Wal-Mart. When you live on campus and don’t have a car, it costs money to get a taxi to Wal-Mart or wherever, so I added this service so you can order what you want from Wal-Mart, EB Games or Best Buy and we deliver it with your order.”
The service also delivers over the counter medicines as well.
Zheung’s business is based out Shop For Less, a family grocery store in Highstown, N.J. If a customer orders something that the store doesn’t cover, the deliverer will still pick up that item along the way for delivery.
Coming from someone who experienced the issues of living on a college campus without easy access to groceries, Zheng has had college kids in mind for his business.
“We’re primarily moving to college campuses right now,” Zheng said. “We want to introduce service to the Rutgers campus and the Princeton market, too.”
College Mart Express will deliver anything from groceries, body wash, Red Bull and ice cream. For $3.99, students can expect their orders in one to two business days with no minimum purchase.
Temple student Zack Reinhardt, who has worked in the past as a delivery boy, had similar feelings on the issue.
“It sounds like these companies would be better off focusing on elderly and disabled people rather than college kids,” Reinhardt said. “Granted, you could be in medical school and going grocery shopping is something you really can’t do, but I think if you’re an able-bodied person you should be able to get it yourself. For elderly and disabled people, going to the grocery store is something they physically cannot do.”
Brendan Menapace can be reached at BSMenapace@temple.edu.