By Kalyn Story | Staff Writer
Cara Cliburn Allen, a graduate student studying student hunger, said about 20 percent of Baylor students experience food insecurity, meaning they struggle with consistent access to sufficiently nutritious food.
Allen spoke last night at a food drive and hunger awareness forum hosted by Baylor’s Texas Hunger Initiative, Baylor’s Campus Kitchen and No Kid Hungry. She described a survey and interview process she went through with Baylor students researching food insecurity at Baylor. She found that students who did experience food insecurity were ashamed and tried to hide their hunger from classmates and family.
“At a private school, we incorrectly assume that everyone has money for basic necessities like food,” Allen said. “We must fight the stigma against hunger.”
Allen and Nathan Allman, an associate professor in educational leadership, organized a free farmers market on fountain mall in November and are planning another one for April 20th.
Allen is also organizing a mobile food pantry which will take place Wednesday in the parking lot of 7th and James Baptist Church from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“Our goal is to reduce the stigma around hunger by providing free food for all college students who want to take part,” Allen said. “We do not ask students to prove they are hungry or in need. All college students have expenses, and we don’t want students not eating healthy produce solely because it is too expensive.”
College Station junior Rebecca Peirce, the director of Baylor Campus Kitchen, spoke about opportunities students have to help fight hunger in Waco.
With Campus Kitchen, Peirce has volunteered at its community garden, growing fruits and vegetables for Waco families in need.
In McLennan County, more than 48,000 people experience food insecurity, and approximately 17,000 of those people are children, according to a Texas Hunger Initiative press release.
Volunteers with Campus Kitchen also work in the Penland Dining Hall kitchen, cooking meals that are donated to Mission Waco, Cove and the Family Abuse Center.
“Volunteering for Campus Kitchen has been the most rewarding part of my college experience,” Peirce said. “I get to see the families who are feed because of my work, and it is amazing to see how I can impact the community around me.”
Peirce encourages all students to get involved with some service organization and to consider volunteering with Campus Kitchen.