Welcome to Athens! We’re glad you’re here. Whether you’re a returning Dawg or an international student who just arrived to campus, a new year of college is a time of transition. Over the course of the next few weeks and months, you’ll be settling in and building routines in your new home. Finding places to eat and shop for groceries is a big part of establishing a routine here, and this post is meant to give you information to help navigate eating off and on campus.

UGA Dining Services

If you’re new to campus, you will definitely want to check out the UGA Dining Services website for information on dining location, menus, and detailed nutrition information as well as nutrition resources available to students on the meal plan, like nutrition counseling and the Eat Smart course. The website also provides location information and hours of operation for campus retail locations, so you can find the best place to grab a cup of coffee or a quick snack between classes.

Did you know that students living off campus can sign up for a commuter meal plan?

Grocery Stores

There are a number of grocery stores throughout Athens, including Kroger, Publix, Ingles, Piggly Wiggly, and Bell’s Food Stores. If you are looking for a Whole Foods-type specialty store, EarthFare, Daily Co-op, and The Fresh Market carry similar items; these stores have more gourmet and prepared food options as well as specialty items like vegan or gluten free products (prices tend to be higher as well, but check their weekly circulars and loyalty programs for deals). Trader Joe’s is another grocery store that focuses on signature and store brand items that also has a wide selection of convenient pantry basics including pre-cut frozen veggies and quick cooking whole grains.

Larger retailers who sell grocery items include Walmart and Target, as well as some budget stores like Dollar General Marketplace where they sell a smaller selection of items.

Aldi is a discount grocery store with locations on the east and west sides of Athens. They sell store-brand products at often reduced prices compared to typical grocery stores. They have a couple of quirks that help keep prices down; you will need to have a quarter (yep, an old fashioned 25 cents in cash) to unlock a grocery cart. The quarter will be returned to you when you return the cart. You’ll also need to bring your own bags and bag your own groceries, or you will have to purchase bags from Aldi.

Some stores, like Kroger and Walmart, offer services like grocery delivery or curbside pickup when you order groceries online. These services are relatively new to Athens, so be sure to check with your preferred store to find out what options are available and any cost associated with the service.

Daily Co-op is a member-run grocery cooperative located on Prince Avenue. Although there are benefits to becoming a co-op member, anyone can shop there, and it is open to the public. They sell grocery staples with a focus on local and specialty items. They also have a deli section focusing on vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free options.

Grocery Shopping By Bus

  • The College Station Kroger can be accessed by the UGA Vet Med bus route.
  • Daily Co-op is located along the UGA Health Sciences bus route, near the stop at Grady Avenue.
  • EarthFare is located in Five Points in close proximity to the UGA Milledge Avenue bus route.
  • A number of other stores are accessible via the Athens Clarke County Transit System (city bus); you can ride the bus for free when you show your UGA ID.

Student Discounts

You will want to have your UGA ID handy to take advantage of discounts at area stores. Show your ID before the cashier finishes ringing you up in order to get the discount. Grocery retailers that advertise UGA student discounts include:

  •                EarthFare: 5% off on Tuesdays
  •                The Fresh Market: 10% off every day

In addition, be sure to ask if your store offers rewards programs (like the Kroger Plus card) to help you get discounts and save money.

Looking for International Foods?

  • Asian specialty food stores: Fooks Foods, Oriental Mart
  • Hispanic specialty food stores: Los Compadres, La Jalisco, Carniceria Costa De Jalisco, Supermarket El Camino Real, Sinaloa Super Market, La Pasadita

Many students who are seeking specific foods to their home cuisine choose to travel to the Buford Highway area of Duluth, GA which is located about 70 miles away by car via Highway 316 and I-85. Buford Highway is known for a dense international business population with hundreds of restaurants, groceries, and other businesses of diverse cultures from throughout the world including Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. You will find many restaurants offering traditional and modern cuisine as well as full service groceries with dry goods, frozen foods, and fresh meat and seafood.

Farmer’s Markets

Athens is fortunate to be the home of robust farmer’s markets selling local/regionally grown foods and products. Both markets are seasonal, so be sure to check their websites for their current times, dates, and locations.

  • Athens Farmer’s Market main market is on Saturday at Bishop Park, located near the UGA Health Sciences campus. They have a weekday market on Wednesday evenings at Creature Comforts Brewery in downtown Athens. They accept cash as well as credit/debit cards and participate in a program through Wholesome Wave Georgia that allows participants to double their dollars when using SNAP benefits/EBT card (IE, receive $10 worth of eligible produce for $5).
  • West Broad Farmer’s Market occurs on Saturday mornings at the West Broad School on Broad Street. They also participate in the Wholesome Wave Georgia SNAP benefit doubling program. The market provides health screenings from community partners, cooking demos, and kids activities in addition to market vendors.
  • Not able to make it to a market? Another way to purchase local produce is through Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA for short. Collective Harvest, Athens Locally Grown, and Woodland Gardens are a few programs where individuals or families can purchase “shares” of items from farmers and pick them up weekly. This can be a great way to try new-to-you foods. Some CSAs offer smaller or budget shares or accept volunteers in exchange for produce.

Having Trouble Obtaining Enough Food?

  • The Food Bank of Northeast Georgia provides food directly to partner organizations throughout the region to be distributed to those in need; you can search their website to find a community partner near you (the food bank does not distribute directly to individuals).
  • The UGA food pantry, operated by UGA Greek Life and located on the first floor of Tate student center, is available with no proof of need required.
  • Food scholarships are also offered to award meal plans to students demonstrating financial need. 

If you’re looking for even more info on restaurants, food trucks, and other Athens-centric dining and entertainment tips, the Flagpole is a free weekly newspaper that includes this type of information. You can find free copies of the Flagpole around Athens and campus in places like Tate Plaza and on College Square. They publish an annual Flagpole Guide to Athens which is a great resource to finding your way around town and includes information on local restaurants, arts and music. You can also find information on upcoming events through the student newspaper, the Red and Black.

Written by: Beth Kindamo, Nutrition Education Coordinator, UHC Health Promotion