The Med Student Diet

Medical students have arrived in Normaltown and they are hungry — not to mention being seriously in need of coffee.

The University’s College of Public Health began moving into the neighborhood last spring, with faculty setting up offices and holding classes in renovated buildings at the old U.S. Navy Supply Corps School. Students and faculty from the Georgia Health Sciences University-UGA Medical Partnership joined them on August 6, just in time for school to start this fall.

The new health sciences campus, which fronts on Prince and Oglethorpe avenues, is now home base to almost 800 students, faculty and staff.

“I’ve begun to eat and shop around Normaltown more often, especially for lunch,” said Parker Smith, a second-year medical student. “I eat around Normaltown either by myself or with other classmates probably three times a week. We go to Ike & Jane a lot for lunch and breakfast, for like donuts and stuff.”

Medical school requires huge amounts of hard work and personal discipline, and most students find it exhausting, no matter how determined they are.  Calories and caffeine are needed to fuel brains and bodies.

The immediate neighborhood is the most convenient place to turn, and it offers far more choices than the school’s former location on Baldwin Street, where only The Blind Pig and a convenience store were close by.

“We all go out to eat,” said third-year medical student Cristina Elstad. “Agua Linda is a favorite because it’s just right across the street. It has great food, and I know a lot of the first and second years will go for lunch to Ike & Jane or Marti’s at Midday. Those are both close, and they’re good.”

When it comes to coffee and pastries, the wildly popular Ike & Jane and the newly opened Sips Coffee dominate the local scene.

Ike & Jane sits on Prince Avenue, across from Normal Hardware. There’s rarely a spot in the parking or an empty chair indoor or outside. The café offers pastries, sandwiches, and donuts in astonishing flavors including Frosted Flake-chocolate and sriracha-peanut butter.  A variety of coffees, espressos and teas are also available.

Timing can be everything.

“Our students found out very fast that Ike & Jane closes at 5 p.m., and they can head over to Sips until 9,” said Alison McCullick, director of outreach and communication at the Georgia Health Sciences/University of Georgia Medical Partnership.

The Robleto family opened Sips Espresso Café in March, and it shares a parking lot with their other two businesses. The family also owns and operates Agua Linda, a popular Mexican restaurant, and Los Compadres, a full service grocery store with a Latin flavor.

The timing for Sips was just right.

“That’s going to be a great study spot for all the students here. I think they knew that they were going to have a huge influx of students and faculty, and coffee can be the main item on some people’s diets,” said Cristina Elstad. “So, that was a smart move on their part. I think they definitely anticipated that we were moving in.”

Once the Health Sciences Campus is completely renovated, which should be in 2015, an estimated 1,400 faculty, staff and students will be based at the Health Sciences Campus. Brown Hall, a former hotel and barracks for the Navy School, will become a residence hall in fall 2013 and house up to 200 students. The number of students based at the campus will grow with construction of the department of environmental health science, and by 2017, the total will be closer to 1,800.

The 56-acre site belonged to the U.S. Navy Supply Corps School starting in the 1950s. It was closed, and in 2010 its operation began moving to Rhode Island. UGA started redesigning the campus in spring 2011 to ensure a bigger home for its public health and medical students.

And they need to eat.

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