Several graduate and international student organizations at Texas Tech University started a food pantry to help an underserved, unknown population in need – their peers.
The Wreck Hunger Graduate & International Food Pantry, which is open for donations, is spearheaded by Ashlee Taylor, the president of the Graduate Student Advisory Council and a graduate student in nutritional sciences. She has studied food and nutrition insecurity but didn’t realize how serious a problem it was among other graduate students until she found out a number of her peers frequently didn’t have access to healthy food or even enough food.
In looking into it more, she learned this was a problem at many universities throughout the country. Graduate students frequently get a stipend from their university for being a teaching or research assistant, but it’s rarely enough to cover all their expenses. Not all are eligible to work somewhere else in addition to their on-campus positions. Additionally, graduate students are more likely to be older and have families, which adds costs.
International students face different issues. Their visas restrict them to working only 20 hours a week, usually only on campus. Some face difficulties finding healthy, affordable food because of unfamiliarity with the culture. Additionally, their families are not close by and often are not able to help, even from afar.
“That is why we decided to establish a food pantry for Texas Tech and wanted to specifically target our pantry to graduate and international students,” Taylor said. “We contacted multiple partners along the way and brought together a good number of organizations who work with these populations daily.”
The team consists of members of the Graduate Student Advisory Council, the Graduate Nutrition Organization, International Cultural Center, Office of International Affairs, Division of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs and the Lubbock branch of Baylor’s Texas Hunger Initiative.
While they are looking for donations, the food pantry is not yet open to distribute food. Taylor said they want to make sure they have consistent donations so people in need know they can rely on the food pantry. Donations from the Lubbock and Texas Tech communities are welcomed; they need non-perishable food, household items (cleaners, laundry detergent, etc.), baby items and personal hygiene products. They also are looking for a freezer.
People can contact Taylor to arrange a dropoff or take donations to:
- Graduate School, Administration Building Room 328 (Boston Avenue at 15th Street)
- Graduate Center, Administration Building Room 41 (Akron Avenue at Broadway)
- International Cultural Center, 601 Indiana Ave.
The food pantry also will act as a laboratory of sorts, providing an opportunity to conduct research on hunger and food insecurity in graduate and international students, a previously unstudied population.