Peapod grocery delivery service serves Northwestern students

Audrey Cheng

After moving into her own apartment this year, Communication junior Sarah Lowe ran into a problem many off-campus students share: buying groceries.

“Over the summer, I tried to take the school shuttle to go to (Jewel-Osco), but it always seemed unreliable on the way back,” Lowe said. “I would still have to walk a considerable distance for the groceries.”

In September, Lowe started using Peapod, an online grocery delivery service founded in Evanston in 1989. The company currently has 22 U.S. markets in 11 states.

Elana Margolis, Peapod’s manager of public relations, said the online grocer services about 350,000 people yearly and is catered specifically to anyone with a hectic schedule.

“Students are very busy,” she said. “It’s a convenient service for anyone who is time-strapped. It’s popular among students among all areas we serve simply because a lot of us don’t have cars or a grocery store that’s easily accessible.”

Peapod has a $6.95 delivery fee for orders more than $100, but Margolis said people don’t seem to mind the fee.

“People don’t seem to think too much about it. Because of the convenience they’re willing to pay,” she said. “Their time is money. Whether you need to be studying or doing schoolwork, it’s time you don’t have to take away from things you really want to do.”

Lowe agreed, saying the delivery charges aren’t too costly.

“If you’re a new Peapod customer, you get free shipping for the first 60 days,” she said. “There are also coupons that you get all the time. Even those coupons take out the cost of delivery.”

SESP sophomore Kristina Nolte said the delivery charges are not a huge obstacle. Her mother orders food for her a few times a quarter because her dorm, Bobb-McCulloch, 2315 Sheridan Road, is far from a grocery store.

“Even though I am on financial aid and I have a work-study job, it’s worth it,” she said. “But if I would have to pay for it myself, I wouldn’t do it.”

Lowe added the food is comparable to groceries found at Jewel-Osco or Whole Foods.

“They have quite a range of products that they offer from their generic brands to brands that you see in-store,” she said. “I’ve never had a problem with produce. It’s always very fresh and has never really been damaged.”

But Nolte said the food quality sometimes is not as satisfactory as Whole Foods.

“You don’t get to pick the food out yourself,” she said. “The preserved foods – not produce – are always good, though.”

The first time Lowe ordered from Peapod, one of the eggs was broken, but she and her roommate called customer service and Peapod credited them back the full price of the eggs.

Lowe added she would definitely recommend the service to off-campus students who do not live near a grocery store.

“I could see myself using this next year,” she said.

Kimberly Railey contributed reporting.

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