Sergio Cervantes/PSU Vanguard

Safeway institutes new bag policy

For students this ‘this small change makes college life even harder’

Backpack-donning students looking to shop at Safeway in between classes must make a decision: leave your backpack with security at the door, or come back later without it. 


At the beginning of April, the Safeway on Jefferson Street introduced a new bag policy which bans backpacks and some other outside bags from entering the store. Upper store management implemented the policy to deflect the store’s ongoing issues with shoplifting, said a Safeway manager. 


While the policy is specifically geared toward backpacks, security guards have the discretion to not allow other bags if said bags are already full. Empty, reusable bags are still permitted. 


“So they cannot come in with their backpacks,” the Safeway manager said. “If they want to leave it at the door, [security] can watch for it. Or they can come back later without their backpacks.”


Many Portland State students who live on or near campus rely on the Jefferson Safeway for groceries. PSU student Lily Rierson said the policy has drastically impacted when she is able to get her groceries. 


“I used to go after class a lot, because I would already be halfway over in that direction,” Rierson said. “So I would bring my backpack because that’s what I carry my laptop and notepads and stuff in. Suddenly it’s inconvenient that I can’t go after classes, because I don’t want to not have my bag on me, and it was like my laptop in there, and I’m not gonna trust that with the security at Safeway.”


PSU student A.J. Odom is also a Safeway regular and also expressed how the policy has made getting groceries increasingly difficult.


“Both me and my roommate go to Safeway to get our food, but neither of us have cars so instead we take bags with us to carry everything back to our dorm,” Odom stated. “Safeway is the closest bulk food store near us.” 


Many alternative grocery shops nearby have too small a selection or are too expensive. The nearest fully-fledged grocery store to campus is a Whole Foods on Couch Street—about 15 minutes away via public transit—or Fred Meyer’s on 20th Place which is 17 minutes away via public transit. Those which are reasonably priced require a farther commute. 


“There’s CVS, but they’re not really grocery shopping, and anything else is quite a distance away,” Rierson said. “I’d have to get on the Max [Light Rail] or something to go to Fred Meyer’s.”


Some shoppers have also noted more security during their grocery runs. Tamla Quipse—a student living on campus who shops at Safeway—expressed how the combination of security and the new policy has made the store feel unwelcoming. 


“I think just entering a specific storefront with the immediate mistrust of everybody and kind of, you know, accosting you immediately makes me not want to go there at all,” Quipse said. 


Students are not the only ones experiencing the effects of the new policy. 


“As I was leaving the store, I got to experience how this change will impact the community as a whole,” Odom stated. “There aren’t just people like me who use our bags from home to carry food items back to our dorm, there are also people who are commuting and stopping in to grab something small and are turned away because they have their work with them. A man walked in and was discussing with the security guard that he had his insulin in his bag. They had to bring out the manager of the store to solve the issue.”


An official Safeway spokesperson did not respond to requests for comment.


“As small and inconsequential as Safeway’s change in bag policy sounds, this small change makes college life even harder,” Odom stated. “Students like myself, who are struggling to stay afloat, now have even more to worry about. The cost of living in Portland is already so high. The cost of living on campus is even greater. For students who are money conscious, we need every bit of control we can get.”