Combating Hidden Hunger On Campus
– UTSA –

September 7, 2018    /    By Samantha Rendon

In fall of 2017, enrollment at UTSA: University of Texas at San Antonio reached an all-time high of 30,674 students with 76% of those students under the age of 25. With college tuition costs on the rise, financial aid doesn’t always match pace. A recent study found that up to 50 percent of college students at universities are not getting enough to eat or are worried about where their next meal will come from.

                Originally from Houston, Kareem Rose started his sophomore year at UTSA dependent on financial aid. With additional financial assistance from his parents, Kareem was provided with stability to maintain nourishment throughout the school year. Life took an unexpected turn, however, when Hurricane Harvey hit his hometown on August 25th leaving his family to deal with the devastation. “This is the time I first turned to the Roadrunner Food Pantry on campus,” Kareem says, “I didn’t want to burden my parents for money or groceries when they were already going through so much and it was already catastrophic.”

Speaking to friends and colleagues around campus about his situation, Kareem was directed to the Roadrunner Food Pantry. “At first, I wasn’t sure if they (pantry) would be able to help me,” Rose says, “but I learned as long as you present a current student ID you are able to utilize the pantry by following the nutrition guidelines.”  For UTSA students like Kareem, the pantry is a helpful resource offering healthy food options so students won’t be food insecure.

For newly independent college students, the reality of losing financial and food stability provided by living at home is a difficult adjustment that not all can overcome. Having full-time education and curriculum responsibilities, an internship or minimum-wage job, and new-found out-of-pocket expenses amongst other things are all factors that historically become prioritized over meals and proper nutrition.

“As a student, you want to make smart financial decisions,” Kareem says. For many, the Roadrunner Food Pantry is the main resource for nourishment to go to class and be focused without worrying about food. “The food is there; if you need it then take it,” Kareem says.

A recent study found that up to 50 percent of college students at universities are not getting enough to eat or are worried about where their next meal will come from.

At two years old, the Roadrunner Food Pantry is still new to the UTSA’s Student Union Center located on main campus. Since the pantry has been opened, more than 3,000 students have walked through its doors and benefitted from its use says Larry Savoy, Graduate Assistant of the Roadrunner Food Pantry at UTSA.

Larry says at UTSA’s main campus, the majority of students who benefit from the Roadrunner Food Pantry are undergraduates between the ages of 18 – 25 years of age. “Our main focus is to provide students with staple items such as rice, beans, vegetables and pasta to fill them up and keep them satisfied,” Larry says. “Without proper nutrition, students will go hungry and their grades and mental state will suffer.”

Having the Roadrunner Food Pantry shows how much UTSA and its community cares for one another. Larry says it truly is a community effort and a great example of students helping students. “For someone who grew up in a low-income, single-parent household,” Larry says, “this would have been so beneficial when I was going to school.”

There are over 300 campuses across the United States that have opened food pantries due to the growing issue of hunger on campus. Whether you are a traditional or non-traditional student, hunger can affect anyone at any time.