By Klarissa Ramos | Guest Contributor
Baylor’s Free Farmers Market will be taking place from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday on Fountain Mall. This year, event organizers added giveaways, a photo booth and more to encourage students to come out, get free food and aim to destigmatize food insecurity.
Lauren da Silva, program manager for The Store, said the main purpose of the Free Farmers Market is for it to be a fun activity for students and take advantage of getting free food, if and when they need it.
“This year we will have 30,000 pounds of food to give away to students for free,” da Silva said. “We’ll have recipes that students can use so they can use the food they get as well as a photo booth, some giveaways, some gifts to students, other basic needs, resources on campus and in the Waco community.”
On March 29, the Staff Council volunteered to pack meal kits for students in need of food during Easter break and for the rest of the spring semester, at the event Ensuring Easter for Everyone.
Football head coach Dave Aranda came to the event to show his support in helping students with food insecurity.
“The staff council, the ability to connect and for people to get out of the nine to five of their jobs and to build community with everyone else at Baylor, is just so special and to do it in a way to help others,” Aranda said.
There are at least 2,150 students who are currently experiencing food insecurity, according to The Store.
“[It’s] okay to ask for help, I think that there is no shame or there is no stigma with any of that,” Aranda said. “I think we all in one form or another feel that, have had close relationships with people that have dealt with that.”
Aranda also said it’s very important to normalize food insecurity so people who can receive help from others.
Each meal kit comes with a recipe card for that meal and is available at The Store along with produce and other meals for students. The Store is located in the Sid Richardson Building on the east wing down in the basement.
Da Silva said she would love to see Baylor have an environment where students can feel safe and comfortable in their experience with food insecurity.
“I would like Baylor to become a place where students do not need to feel ashamed that they are having this life experience and also that they need help,” da Silva said.
For students who aren’t sure whether or not they are experiencing food insecurity, there is a self-survey on The Store’s website they can take.
“We even put a self survey or a self evaluation that you can download, we don’t get answers at all and that’s a self-assessment a student can take to kind of measure their level of food insecurity,” da Silva said.
Da Silva also said students can range from “very low food insecurity” to “very high food insecurity,” but that they, on all parts of the spectrum, should feel comfortable using The Store if they have a need.
Students can fill out an intake form at The Store or online and once approved, they can start using their two swipes per month to access The Store.
For students and faculty wanting to help others who are experiencing food insecurity on campus, there are volunteering opportunities at Baylor they can sign up for. Students can also donate unused guest swipes and food to The Store.
“I would love for us to talk about an experience someone is having … who they are, and that it’s totally normal to be a college student who does not know how to figure everything out by themselves all the time,” da Silva said.