Walmart Express’ closing on South Ninth Street this past October drew grumblings from local residents — stomach grumblings, that is.
“It sucks,” junior Ryan Idel told MOVE Magazine in October. “It’s just so convenient. But not anymore, because it’s closing. It’s sad.”
Now, students looking for groceries have either had to pay up at more premium outlets like Lucky’s Market or find a ride to cheaper, farther away stores, like regular-sized Walmarts.
The store’s closing compounded a growing problem in Columbia. As an urban area relatively lacking in affordable, accessible fresh food options, the city earned the distinction of “food desert” by the USDA.
But don’t go hoarding water or necessities just yet — there are alternatives, and action is being taken to mitigate the problem.
A&Y Global Market on Fourth Street and Lee’s Market on Cherry Street are two grocery options within reasonable walking distance of campus that offer fresh food and variety.
Additionally, the Columbia Farmers Market provides locally sourced produce, meat and dairy products every Saturday morning at its location in the Parkade Center off of Business Loop 70, although getting there from campus will likely require a car.
More long term, MSA Senator Dylan Cain told The Maneater in November that student government is working to make fresh produce and meat more available to students by implementing Electronic Benefits Transfer machines at campus stores, which allow for the use of food stamps and debit cards as payment.