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USF Students Excited for Publix on Campus

Grocery store to be built as part of new student housing village.

TAMPA, Fla. (Jan. 21, 2016) – Anticipation is building among University of South Florida students excited to hear a Publix grocery store will be built on the Tampa campus. The project was approved by the Florida Board of Governors (BOG) on Thursday.

The new store will be built at the southeast corner of Fletcher Ave. and North Palm Drive as part of USF’s new Student Housing Village, which is the largest public-private partnership project approved by the BOG to date. While this new amenity has the potential to increase convenience for all USF students, it will particularly benefit those without their own vehicles and those who prefer home-cooked meals.

“It’s really inconvenient to go off campus to get food because I either have to rely on someone else or use the Bull Runner,” said Greeshma James, a second-year biomedical sciences student who lives on campus. “Or walking, which can be really time-consuming.”

Research has shown that students who maintain an active on-campus life have a stronger connection to their peers and improved academic performance. The Publix will not only provide a nearby location for students to shop together, but the company has agreed to conduct at least two job fairs per year on the USF campus. Qualified student applicants will be considered for part-time employment opportunities and internships with Publix.

“Yeah I’m actually looking for a job, so I would work at Publix,” said first-year student Kelsea Sahabe. She later joked that, growing up in Florida with Publix’s signature sub sandwiches and chocolate chip cookies, Publix is her “entire life.”

Although there are many students who don’t own cars for a variety of reasons, USF’s approximately 4,000 international students in particular may not have access to a vehicle upon moving to Tampa. Saika Viard, a senior in the College of Public Health, mentioned that she has several friends who are international students and who are looking for on-campus jobs.

“I think the international students would really appreciate that,” said Viard.

While British international student James Swanson is already employed, he is still in the market for a car. For the time being, the first-year Sports and Entertainment Management MBA student relies on friends and colleagues to do his bi-monthly grocery trips, which makes buying and maintaining fresh produce a difficult upkeep.

“I have to stock up for large periods of time,” said Swanson. “Because when you rely on other people, you can never guarantee when you’ll next have an opportunity to go.”

Whether a student is from across the globe or Hillsborough County, a grocery store may add some practicality to student life. The 29,000 square-foot store will be the first on-campus location in Florida, and the only full-scale grocery store on USF‘s campus. It’s also a first-of-its-kind across the country, as this will be the first Publix location fully integrated into a student housing village on a college campus.

“The entire campus community is thrilled and excited to welcome Publix – one of Florida’s most respected companies – to our campus,” said USF System President Judy Genshaft. “Our students’ top request was to bring a grocery store to campus so that we could create a healthy living and learning environment that fully supports them in their goals and ambitions. This Publix location will bring a great dimension to our new student village and create a vibrant and welcoming environment on the Tampa campus.”

For students who normally stay on campus, the options to eat in dining halls or restaurants such as Subway and Panda Express, will still be offered. Eventually, however, almost every person has to start buying and cooking his or her own meals, which can be an adjustment.

“I think a Publix on campus will help students learn how to cook for themselves if they don’t have the means to get to the Publix’s off campus,” said fourth-year mass communications student Meagan Sapashe. “But at the same time it will give a broader selection to foods and supplies that are already available on campus.”

USF’s agreement with Publix includes a 20-year ground lease with six five-year term extensions, and that means decades to come of fresh produce, baked goods, and the occasional (or daily) “Pub sub” for USF students, faculty and staff.

It’s anticipated construction on the grocery store could be complete by late next year.

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