The Hays County Food Bank, United Campus Ministry and Christ Chapel have partnered up to combat food insecurity on the Texas State University campus.
Food insecurity is the state of being without consistent access to nutritious food due to a lack of money and resources.
This partnership gives students the chance to receive a free meal from 12-1 p.m. every Monday at the United Campus Ministry building. In addition to lunch, the Hays County Food Bank distributes free bags of food and fresh produce to those in need. The food distribution is open to the whole community, but is aimed toward students, faculty and staff.
Jason Kamimoto, Hays County Food Bank volunteer services coordinator, said food insecurity is an issue in Hays County—especially for college students.
“One in 7 people in Hays County are food insecure, which means that they don’t know where their next meal is coming from,” Kamimoto said. “We know there’s need among college students because college can be expensive, so a little bit of extra help can go a long way.”
The bags of packed food include bread, sweets, fresh produce, information on the food bank and recipes for eating healthy on a budget.
Megan West, health and wellness junior, said, as a student, it can be hard to pay for groceries sometimes.
“I’ve realized that it’s harder as a student to pay for bills, as well as groceries,” West said. “It’s been really hard and I’ve had to go days with just eating peanut butter sandwiches or something really simple until I get my next pay check.”
West said trying to make money to purchase groceries can create a higher level of stress because it sometimes interferes with school.
“It really has affected me and some of my roommates as well because I have to decide ‘should I go to class today or should I go make that extra money,’” said West. ”Because I won’t have money to buy groceries this week and I don’t know if I’m going to be able to eat.”
United Campus Ministry has been handing out the weekly free lunches for about three years, but the food bank has only just begun passing out the food bags. While the program is new, there have already been successful results.
“They are only about a month in, but already there have been students grabbing food for the week,” said Campus Minister Ryan Jenson.
Jenson hopes the program will continue to grow to reduce the number of those who suffer from food insecurity.
“We would love to continue growing our program, as well as the food bank portion,” Jenson said. “Hopefully between the three ministries we are making a little bit of a dent in the hungry population of campus.”
One challenge the food distribution program faces is getting students to recognize that free groceries are available to them.
“We are still trying to get the word out, which has kind of been the biggest challenge,” Kamimoto said. “We want to let everyone on campus know we are here and available if they need our services.”
The Hays County Food Bank holds multiple food distributions throughout the week at various locations. Students can find more information about the program and its locations on the Hays County Food Bank website.