Groups combat food insecurity on campus

In an effort to banish hunger on campus and in the surrounding community, the two groups have reached out to the Houston Food Bank to organize an event called “Feed the Growl.”

As the cost of attending college continues to rise, the Sam Houston State University’s Food Pantry and Student Money Management Center believe students should be focused on their classwork, not the growl hankering in their stomachs.

“Feed the Growl,” will take place today from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Envision Bernard G. Johnson Coliseum being transformed into SHSU’s very own farmer’s market for the day. This is exactly what the SMMC and Food Bank have in mind for the event, according to SHSU Food Pantry chair and treasurer Amber Spell.

“People can expect fresh fruits and vegetables,” Spell said. “It will be just like a farmer’s market. People will be able to walk up and choose what food they want.”

Spell said the idea for “Feed the Growl” came from a time when the Food Pantry was in desperate need of supplies.

“This event definitely has a backstory, especially since it was not originally envisioned by the Food Pantry at SHSU nor the SMMC,” Spell said. “Our contact with the Houston Food Bank was initiated in fall 2014 by the food pantry. Our pantry was running low on food and as the Chair of Donor Relations, I felt as if it was partly my duty to ensure that we had enough food to fill all of our requests. I reached out to the HFB because I had questions about how to get food from them.”

Encountering road bumps on the way, Spell jumped at the chance to use a special service the HFB offers.

“Since we were not a partner agency, they could not give us food, but they did inform us about a service that we could use where they take a 28 feet long truck of 10,000 pounds of fresh produce out into the community,” Spell said. “I was immediately intrigued and saw it very beneficial to our campus. From there, I began to plan to make it as an event.”

Erick Funes, a peer counselor with the SMMC, said that despite the troubles the groups faced trying to secure the event to take place during Financial Literacy Week, they remained optimistic.

“We had a few difficulties with timing and location,” Funes said. “Our goal is to help as many students as possible and with the publicity that Financial Literacy Week receives, we figured we could impact a greater number of people by tying the two. End result is Financial Education along with some free food.”

Finances are an area of stress that manifests within the minds of college students and their families. Spell said “Feed the Growl” was designed to directly alleviate those distractions.

“Those who are struggling financially and not able to afford healthy food will truly benefit from our event,” Spell said. “Groceries can be very pricey and sometimes a latter priority when you are a student and have other bills to take care of.”

The HFB plans to incorporate a team that will help qualified students sign up for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

“Specifically, the team will complete the application with the students and submit those applications once they get back to the office,” Spell said. “SNAP’s benefits are great to use for a financial relief when it comes to food expenses.”

Spell said inspiring people to implement healthy foods into their diets is also a priority of the groups involved.

“Students too often experience food insecurity or turn to unhealthy food options,” Spell said. “People as a whole make unhealthy food decisions, a lot of times because the healthier foods are much more expensive. We want to provide an opportunity for everyone to be able to access healthy, fresh food for free.”

According to Spell, there is no limit to the amount of food guests can take but would like to encourage all in attendance to bring their own bags.

All SHSU Students and everyone in the Huntsville community are invited to come out for the free event.

Lillie Muyskens | The Houstonian

Lillie Muyskens | The Houstonian

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