By Lindsey McLemore | Reporter
The Waco community has donated more than 45,000 pounds of food for the first Baylor Free Farmers Market Today.
From 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., organizations from across campus will be on Fountain Mall with a wide selection of fresh produce, bread, eggs, bottled water and other groceries available free to all students.
Cara Cliburn Allen, a research assistant and doctoral student of higher education studies and leadership from Ada, Okla., and Nathan Alleman, associate professor of educational leadership, have organized the event with the help of many partners across campus, which include Aramark, Career and Professional Development, Department of Wellness, Office of Community Engagement and Service and more.
“There has been enough food donated to the farmers market for every undergraduate and graduate student at Baylor to have three and a half pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables,” Allen said.
Last year, Alleman and Allen researched the eating habits and food security of the student body to gather information about how hunger affects the lives of students. Thirty out of the 300 students who responded to the survey reported not being able to access healthy foods on a regular basis, making them food insecure.
The United Nations World Food Programme defines food security as “the state of having reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.”
Several months following Allen and Alleman’s research, who were put in contact with Rev. Ruben Andrade Jr. of Family of Faith Worship Center, who organizes a local food pantry.
“A few months ago, I felt in my heart that I needed to give back to the Baylor community,” Andrade said. “They have always helped our church community so much, that I really felt the need to give back.”
Andrade’s food pantry helps all kinds of people in the Waco community, and Alleman felt it was important to make that distinction to the Baylor community as well.
“We want to highlight that, even at a private university, there are students that struggle to keep enough money available for food,” Alleman said.
However, this event is not just for those struggling.
“Students are always on the go,” Andrade said. “There isn’t always time to stop and eat a healthy meal, even in a dining hall, so that’s why I wanted to make sure this food could be enjoyed by all the students … This is for everyone to enjoy together.”
Allen hopes the farmers market will be an annual event and launching point for more food initiatives on campus which are found on the BU Food Links website.
Family of Faith Worship Center’s Family Resource Center is open to the Waco community Friday from 5 to 7 p.m., where the same wide selection of food is available, and everyone is welcome, regardless of their food security or income.