Faculty and students of the School of Family and Consumer Sciences are partnering with food groups on campus and potentially the Hays County Food Bank to create the first student-run pantry.
Bobcat Bounty, a student-run pantry, derived from research found through a survey done by Texas State’s dietetic interns. Dietetic interns are graduate students seeking to become registered dieticians.
According to Hannah Thorton, senior lecturer and dietetic internship director in SFCS, the study showed that 40.6 percent of Texas State students have some kind of food insecurity.
“Just over 40 percent is huge when talking in terms of our total population almost being 40,000,” Thorton said. “Food insecurities is a big issue that creates serval other issues.”
Following the quantitative portion of the survey, a qualitative study was done. Students who said they experienced some kind of food insecurity were asked to participate in face-to-face interviews.
“From the interviews conducted, we found that even though some students eat three meals a day, the food insecurity can affect their education,” Thorton said. “Some students claimed they had to skip certain classes to pick up another job, just to have enough food to eat. Other students have to commute long distances just to get fed at home.”
Jennifer Wible, dietetic intern, said Bobcat Bounty intends to provide nutritious food to Bobcats in need, while also facilitating a warm and welcoming environment.
“We hope to empower our clients with resources and education to responsible health choices in the future,” Thornton said. “The food pantry is available to anyone with a valid Texas State ID.”
The pantry will operate out of the Family and Consumer Sciences building. Students with a valid Texas State ID will have access to the pantry and select foods they need. Typically, food pantries operate on a bag system. In this system, bags are prepared for recipients, but Thorton claimed the food is easily wasted this way.
Bobcat Bounty will allow students to select what their diets require. For example, if a student was in need of vegan or vegetarian options, they would be able to select food that satisfies that diet.
“We anticipate that Bobcat Bounty will be more than a sustainable food system establishment that allows volunteers to take ownership in serving their fellow students,” Wible said. “It will be a place that focuses on maintaining client dignity and minimizing a negative stigma that may be associated with utilizing a food pantry.”
Thorton said food pantries sometimes create an embarrassing stigma for students. Bobcat Bounty is trying to combat this negative connotation.
“Again, 40 percent of people on our campus have this challenge,” Thorton said. “Let’s give students resources to help them. There is no shame in asking for help.”
Bobcat Bounty is drafting a contract with the Hays County Food Bank in hopes that it will source food. In addition to the Hays County Food Bank, Bobcat Bounty is seeking to partner with other groups on campus.
Bobcat Bounty is expected to be opened by the SFCS starting Feb. 1, 2018.