Baylor Free Farmers Market fights food insecurity, supports students for sixth year

Illustration by Grace Everett | Photo Editor

By Mariah Bennett | Staff Writer

The Baylor Free Farmers Market will be making its return for the sixth year, taking place from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday on Fountain Mall.

This year, the biannual market is expecting about 30,000 pounds of food, according to Madeline Whitmore, graduate assistant for The Store — Baylor’s on-campus food pantry.

Students should bring their ID or ID number to check in, and they are encouraged to bring their own reusable bags as well. However, Whitmore said there will be cardboard boxes leftover from the produce that will be available to use.

Whitmore said the market will have carrots and yams from Baylor Dining, as well as grapes, apples, bananas, broccoli, greens, bread and pastries from the Central Texas Food Bank.

Katy senior Sanjana Natarajan said she went to the Baylor Free Farmers Market last semester and really liked it.

“I know it can be really expensive eating healthy, especially in Waco, so it’s really helpful that Baylor provides the resources for us to do so,” Natarajan said.

Waco junior Angelita Munoz said she went to the market her freshman year and could see some improvements being made in the future.

“I felt like previously, it didn’t have a lot of choice,” Munoz said. “I think the premise is great, but the execution could be improved — similar to an actual farmers market.”

Whitmore said the Baylor Free Farmers Market was created by a professor and a group of graduate students researching food insecurity.

“Their idea was to have a large event to raise awareness about food insecurity on campus,” Whitmore said. “Something fun and a way to give out fresh produce, but also to let people know that the free farmers market exists to help alleviate food insecurity on Baylor’s campus.”

Whitmore said food insecurity is when an individual does not have access to enough healthy food for a healthy and active life.

“[Food insecurity] can look a lot of different ways,” Whitmore said. “Especially for college students, we’re still having to do a lot of research on what that looks like for students.”

Whitmore said The Store estimates about 2,500 students suffer from food insecurity. She said she believes when a student is struggling with food insecurity, it can quickly take over their life. It could keep them from thriving and influence their decisions, including missing social events and scheduling their classes.

“We want students to be able to thrive when they’re at Baylor,” Whitmore said. “So that’s why we’re doing what we’re doing.”

Whitmore said just because students might need extra help or food, doesn’t define who they are. She said students suffering from food insecurity are strong, resilient and resourceful.

“We don’t ever want to reduce a student just to their need to receive food,” Whitmore said. “They are so much more than that. And once we can help [them] meet that basic need, they’ll be able to free themselves up to be even more than they already are.”

Whitmore also said students can help at next week’s All-University Thanksgiving, where they can donate to a drive facilitated by The Store and Student Foundation; students can donate a guest dining hall swipe to a student suffering from food insecurity. This can also be done any other time.

Over the past month, Whitmore said multiple student organizations and classes have done drives for The Store, bringing over 2,500 pounds of food in donations.

“We have experienced so much support from the Baylor community this semester,” Whitmore said. “I have been so blown away by the generosity of everyone on campus helping us with The Store and to alleviate food insecurity. We’re seeing a lot higher demand this year than we ever have … The Baylor community has really, really stepped up to help us fight food insecurity, and we are so thankful.”