UW Oshkosh, a campus with roughly 14,000 students, has been considered a food desert for a while now. For an area to be considered a food desert, it needs to be in an urban area in which it is difficult to buy affordable or quality fresh food.
The students of UWO have been affected most by the food desert situation. With the lack of grocery stores within walking distance of campus, it makes having a car essential and forces students to rely heavily on meal plans and the pricey convenience store offered by the campus.
Some may argue UWO is not a food desert and that you can drive or bus to grocery stores. The car argument fails because not everyone has a car or can afford to buy a parking spot.
As for busing, it is not always ideal to plan around the bus schedules. It would be much easier to walk than take chances with the bus or other public transportation.
However, with the announcement of a new Oshkosh Food Co-op grocery store set to break ground in 2020, UW Oshkosh’s food desert status might change. The Oshkosh Food Co-op will be located on the corner of Jackson Street and Pearl Avenue, a short 15 minute walk from campus.
The opening of the Oshkosh Food Co-op will allow students to quit the expensive meal plan and find better and healthier alternatives that are provided by a lot of local farmers and producers within the region.
Providing a market for local farmers is essential, especially with industrial farms on the rise. A lot of the smaller family-owned farms are going out of business or are in serious need of financial support.
As students, it is important that we have access to healthy and fresh produce. I know I will be taking advantage of its convenient location and the ability to support the local farmers through my purchases.
Even students who live in the dorms and are forced to use the meal plan would get benefits from the Oshkosh Food Co-op because they would have access to other meal options besides Blackhawk Commons.
Assuming this Co-op grocery store is everything it claims to be, UWO will no longer be considered a food desert because students will finally have access to a grocery store that will give them the freedom to choose from a variety of different foods.