‘A Choice To Change The Community’: Students Advocate For Food Access
From left to right: Sydney Jael ‘25, London Blennan ‘26, Kaela Nicholls ‘24, Nazyia Taylor ‘25
Photo by: Bennie Williams
By: Bennie Williams, Campus News Editor
The recent closure of the Walmart on Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive has spotlighted how the Atlanta University Center and the surrounding neighborhoods lack access to fresh produce. In an effort to address this issue, students at Spelman College created a petition for a new shuttle stop at the nearby Kroger on Cascade Avenue.
The four students that came together to address food access within the campus community go by The Visionaries. They shared that the name was inspired by a class project within the Comparative Women’s Studies Department that challenged them to address a social issue.
The petition had over 700 signatures from students, parents, and other stakeholders in the Atlanta University Center community concerned about access to nutritious foods. Those who provided reasons for signing highlighted how a shuttle stop to a grocery store is critical for students who do not have cars on campus.
Nazyia Taylor ‘25, majoring in Comparative Women’s Studies with a minor in Food Studies, said, “our main ask was to get the shuttle to run to Kroger…we also wanted this to be communicated clearly through SpelAlert and the communication systems that the other AUC institutions use.”
For many students in the Atlanta University Center, the shuttles that run everyday are a reliable source of transportation to reach their destinations nearby.
The shuttle service is provided through the Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library that serves Clark Atlanta University, the Interdenominational Theological Center, Morehouse College, and Spelman College. The shuttle runs every hour that the library is open and has multiple stops between the library, different sections of the college campuses, and surrounding MARTA stations. To ride the shuttle, students must provide a valid Atlanta University Center member institution ID.
It is evident that the petition was a contributing factor in making the shuttle stop at Kroger become a reality.
On Feb. 10, the Spelman Student Government Association made the announcement via Instagram that the AUC shuttle will stop at the Kroger. The caption shared that, along with the other AUC student government associations, conversations had taken place on how to expand the shuttle route.
The Maroon Tiger reached out to the AUC Woodruff Library to get more information on the shuttle expansion to the Kroger grocery store. Carmelita Pill, a shuttle supervisor explained how the new shuttle stop to the Kroger will operate.
Starting on Feb. 25, a designated ‘grocery shuttle’ will run on Wednesdays from 5pm to 9pm and Saturdays from 12pm to 5:30pm. On both days, the shuttle will pick students up every 30 minutes and drop them off at the entrance of Kroger. The special route will include stops at the Bishop Cornelius Henderson Student Center for Clark Atlanta, the Camila Olivia Hanks Cosby Academic Center for Spelman, and the Welcome Center for Morehouse.
Pill told the Maroon Tiger that the Walmart stop is among the most popular destinations for students that ride the shuttle. However, since the store’s closure, she shared that there has been a slight decrease in the amount of riders.
Pill shared that the AUC Woodruff Library encourages students to submit proposals and share ideas on potential shuttle stops and how shuttle services can improve the student experience.
The Maroon Tiger asked the Spelman students about the impact they wish to have from the efforts.
Kaela Nicholls ‘24, who studies English with a minor in Film & Cultural Studies, told the Maroon Tiger, “I hope that this situation helps Spelman’s administration reconsider what they perceive to be important issues.”
London Blennan ‘26, a Comparative Women’s Studies major said, “We just want people to know that they have a voice and a choice to change the world.”
“I love Spelman enough to want to see changes,” she added.
The Maroon Tiger is committed to providing the student body updates on the shuttle stop. For the upcoming Fall 2023 semester, the Kroger stop is under consideration.
Copy Edited By: Marlon “MJ” Scott