Having a decent meal is not always easy as a college student so an on-campus resource is helping make food more accessible.
On Feb. 1, the School of Family and Consumer Sciences opened its doors to the new Bobcat Bounty food pantry. The SFCS partnered with the Hays County Food Bank to accommodate a community suffering food insecurity.
Bobcat Bounty started with a successful turnout, opening with 100 clients after only expecting 25 to show.
The pantry is run by dietetic interns and student volunteers who work to organize the food, make food samples and direct students as they pick out their food.
As soon as a student walks in, they are greeted, sign in and can immediately begin selecting food like in a grocery store. This unique set-up allows consumers to take only what they want and not waste excess food.
Hannah Thornton, senior lecturer and SFCS dietetic internship director, discovered a number of her students in her classes were not eating for more than 24 hours at a time. That is when she decided to do something about food insecurity on campus.
Thornton approached Biediger-Friedman, assistant professor and registered dietician, and dietetic interns who conducted research last year that found 40.6 percent of Bobcats met the definition of being food insecure.
“I am an educator because I believe education is transformative and if you are hungry, you can’t engage in that transformative experience,” Thornton said.
Thornton said food insecurity impacts academic success so by partnering with the Hays County Food Bank, they allow students to prosper and focus better in class.
Bethany Diaz, nutrition graduate student, is one of the ten dietetic interns currently on the project. She has also been involved in various other works that help ensure communities have the opportunity to be well-nourished.
“Food is fuel and powerful, it fuels our body, and I strongly believe in feeding our body the proper fuel so we can live healthy lives,” Diaz said.
Thornton and Diaz said it is important to have volunteers in order to create a welcoming environment.
Junior Aguirre, nutrition senior, learned about Bobcat Bounty and immediately signed up to be a volunteer.
“This semester I was able to do a lot more community outreach,” Aguirre said. “(Bobcat Bounty) has inspired me to continue what I am doing. I like interacting with people and helping them.”
The food pantry is gaining support not only from the SFCS, but also from the Equity and Access Committee and the College of Applied Arts. Researchers hope this support continues to grow so a permanent food pantry spot is established on campus.
Bobcat Bounty is open 5-7 p.m every Thursday for students and faculty. Physical proof of financial needs is not necessary to receive assistance and client identities are protected.
To keep up to date with Bobcat Bounty visit: http://dieteticinternship.fcs.txstate.edu/Bobcat-Bounty.html