Emma Shockley | Your guide to food in Penn
Adjusting to living in a new neighborhood away from home can be daunting. Although there is a wide range of resources available in and around the Penn community, many students are still unaware of them. Much of the Penn student body has expressed interest in supporting local businesses, eating sustainably, donating their unused food items, etc., but we are seeing lower turnouts due to this lack. of knowledge. Using this guide to all things food at Penn, students can find all the information they need to explore the many options available to them.
Food Insecurity Resources
For students who are food insecure, one of the resources offered by Penn is the Greenfield Intercultural Center (GIC), located just behind the Pottruck Fitness Center at 3708 Chestnut Street. The Center has organized many initiatives in the past, one of which was the Grab-And-Go food bags for FGLI students. This allowed students to pick up bags full of food from the GIC for free. They also offer the GIC pantry, which is partnered with Penn Park Farm to provide students with free products that can be picked up at their building. In addition to this, the GIC provides additional resources and initiatives for food-insecure Penn students – information about which can be found at their website.
Also, many students are unaware that if you qualify for work-study, which 40% of Penn students do each year, you can also qualify for food stamps to support your groceries. Food stamps are a federal benefit designed to financially support low-income Americans and ensure everyone has access to healthy food. In Pennsylvania, it’s called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (BREAK). On their website, you can find qualification details as well as online application. You don’t need to go to an office, and after completing their application, you can have access to your SNAP benefits in approximately 30 days.
Sustainable Power Options
Many Penn students would prefer to proceed with caution in terms of restoration because they believe that their restoration plan contributes to environmental harm in the greater Philadelphia community. However, there are tons of ways for us students to practice sustainable eating habits throughout our time at Penn.
Penn is currently participating in the Green2Go, an important initiative here on campus that aims to reduce food and limit single-use materials such as plastic or polystyrene take-out containers. Unfortunately, many students aren’t quite aware of how it works yet. Penn students can pick up a green box at the drop-off point in most of our large dining halls. Just ask one of the clerks for your box, fill it up, and take your food to go! Whenever you’re done, simply rinse out your box and return it to one of the many Green2Go drop-off stations located outside most dining halls. This varies from location to location, but you will usually find cardboard boxes labeled as Green2Go drop-off points just inside the building of each dining hall (between where you enter the building and the where you enter the dining room itself). Additional information about Penn’s sustainability initiatives can be read at on this link.
Another sustainable feeding option is University Square Farmer’s Market, which is installed outside the Penn Bookstore on Wednesdays. The Farmer’s Market allows students to purchase locally grown produce rather than mass-produced, land-intensive goods. The most exciting thing is that they accept Dining Dollars! You can find more information at their website. They are set up outside the Penn Bookstore at 36th and Walnut Streets on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Some small actions you can take when dining on Penn’s campus can be opting for less water- and soil-intensive foods. For example, Penn’s Dining offers many vegetarian and vegan dining options in each dining room that can help reduce your carbon footprint. There are also recycling bins spread throughout our campus where you can dispose of any packaging you may have purchased while shopping at places like Gourmet Grocer. These are just a few small actions you can take on a daily basis to help reduce your environmental footprint, and it’s important to remember that some progress is better than no progress. Your eco-responsible actions do not go unnoticed.
Support local businesses
There is a wide range of local businesses in the Philadelphia community that many students may be unaware of.
In addition to the Farm to City University Square Market, you can also visit the Rittenhouse Farmers Market located at 1800 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103. This market is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays and Saturdays, and is open only a 12-minute SEPTA ride (just take line 13, 34, or 36 from Upper Quad station.)
If you’re interested in a short 15-minute walk on the weekend, head to Clark Park Farmers Market! This market is located at 4300-4398 Baltimore Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19104 and is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday. They have fruits, vegetables, desserts and even non-food items.
One of my favorites is Pita Chip, a Mediterranean spot just a 10 minute walk from campus. Some places my friends are big fans of include Rosy’s Taco Bar, Masala Kitchen, and K’Far. Rosy’s Taco Bar is the perfect place for Taco Tuesday, located about 25 minutes from campus (walking distance). Masala Kitchen is near Trader Joe’s; my friends and I love going there before or after grocery shopping, and it’s surprisingly affordable! Finally, K’Far is located in Rittenhouse Square (about a 30-35 minute walk from campus) and is full of delicious pastries and sandwiches – a great option for a Sunday brunch. Using this directoryyou can find small businesses to support in just about any neighborhood in Philadelphia.
Affordable dining options
Finally, here are some resources to keep in mind regarding affordable dining options. Many sites and organizations offer discounted prices. One of them is Too Good to Go, a non-profit organization that minimizes food waste while providing more affordable dining options. Find more information about their website. A friend of mine raved about Too Good to Go and said she got Spread bagels for surprisingly cheap, among other things! Plus, SnackPass offers various local restaurant discounts for students, and you can even have a Penn peer with a SnackPass partnership! Their website provides more information, but don’t forget to download the app!
Ultimately, Campus Philly offers student-specific discounts throughout the Philadelphia area. Although they have lots of other great deals, they have deals on food and drink from lots of partner organizations and are definitely worth checking out.
With a student body as diverse as Penn’s, it’s important to recognize that our students come from diverse backgrounds, which makes it all the more relevant to ensure students know about affordable dining options on and around the campus. In the future, I encourage you all to review this guide and the many resources it contains. Most importantly, if you come across a helpful food resource, be sure to spread the word and help make our Philadelphia community a little better…and tastier.
EMMA SHOCKLEY is a college freshman in international relations in Panama City Beach, Florida. His email is [email protected]