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Clare’s Garden closure leaves students hungry for answers

The abrupt closure of St. Clare’s Garden has left many in frustrated and in disbelief. Now, nursing students find themselves not only left to fend for themselves but also to grapple with the bitter realization that their institution may not prioritize their health and community as much as they believed.

Kylie Severson, a nursing student, voiced her frustration with the cafe’s closure and the abysmal communication, or rather, the complete lack thereof from USF.

“When me and my peers first found out about the closure, we were all pretty upset,” Severson explained. “Clare's garden was 'The Bistro' of St. Clare campus. There were a lot of students asking who they could talk to get it back up and running and unfortunately nothing came of it.”

For Severson and other nursing students, not only did Clare’s Garden provide accessible meals in their busy schedules, it gave students a space to recharge and mingle.

“Since the closure of Clare’s Garden I feel as though the students do not interact with other groups as often,” Severson said. “When students would go down to get food, you would see students from all cohorts and majors. This highly impacted the community feel throughout the St. Clare Campus.”

However, St. Clare’s Garden shutting its doors was not a surprise to Krzysztof Noga, a commuter nursing student and member of the Food Committee, who said that the cafe was on a “downtrend.”

He pointed out the glaring lack of support for Clare’s Garden from Quest and USF in terms of staffing and promotion. He explained that there was usually only one employee left to run the cafe by themselves, and that advertising was lackluster at best.

“I think the cafe could have done better advertising what they had or engaging students to eat there,” Noga said. “I proposed having the grab-and-go options and fresher alternatives. I wanted to see something that entices students to go to Clare’s instead of an outside option.”

With limited resources and inadequate advertising, it’s no shock that Noga’s suggestions seemed to fall on deaf ears.

USF closed Clare’s Garden with little warning and even less regard to how it would impact the community and nutrition of its regulars. The irony isn’t lost on anyone- an institution dedicated to preparing future caregivers has left students to live off of vending machines without much thought for alternative solutions. The lack of transparency and concern for the health and community at St. Clare seems to only be the tip of the iceberg for a pattern of systemic problems.  The nursing community shouldn’t have to settle for empty promises and half-hearted efforts.

They deserve better food options, better support, better communication and at the very least, they deserve to be involved in decisions that impact their education and well-being. It’s past the time for our administration to redirect its priorities past the bureaucratic red tape and toward the needs of its students.

“I would like the administration to know how highly this impacted the nursing community. It was a big part of what made that campus, and we as a community believe we need to work together to make a solution,” Severson said. “Us as a community deserve more than a short notice when it comes to the closure of our main source of food. It is the least that they could have done.”

After all, hungry minds can't learn on empty stomachs, and hungry students won't settle for empty promises.

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