Odessa organizations, campus clubs, faculty offering free food to stave off hunger
Food Pantry to be placed in SAC
March 8, 2017
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A survey I conducted in December suggested that some of our students are food insecure. Of 69 students respondents 57% worried at least sometimes about having enough money for food, 61% could not afford to eat a balanced meal half of the time during the last 6 months, and about 49% of students skipped meals or didn’t eat because they lacked money for food at least once in the last six months.
The following story is by UTPB student Cristina Caldera, with additions by Dr. Myra Salcedo:
Like any other university students, the students from the University of Texas of the Permian Basin do not get away with being stressed from the lack of sleep. However, the lack of sleep is not the only reason students are experiencing anxiety. Apart from school work, family, and other responsibilities, students also need to worry about having something to eat in order to function properly. Some University students are known for being hungry much of the time.
The hunger issue across campus has been receiving much attention lately as Dr. Jamie Hughes, Associate Professor of Psychology, conducted a survey to find out whether students were skipping meals, and the results showed that 49% out of the 70 students who took the survey skipped meals over the past six months. Most of these students worry about running out of food before they receive money to buy more food. The university has had discussions concerning adding a food pantry.
However, there is a lot of free food and buffets already offered on campus at a host of events (for example “Pizza with the President” on March 8), and two organizations have stepped into the fray to offer free food. This includes the Baptist Student Ministry, The Salvation Army and Westminster Presbyterian Church Food Pantry, 4901 Maple Ave, (across the street from UTPB) distributes free food from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. every Saturday at the end of the month. The church partners with the West Texas Food Bank. Call 432-366-1421 for more information.
Rose Hunter, Social Services Case Worker of the Salvation Army Odessa Corps recently wrote a letter to William and Ordelle Watts Professor, and Chair of the Department of Literature and Languages, Dr. Rebecca Babcock. Hunter stated: “We would like to offer the services of The Salvation Army to your students. We offer free meals to the public every day from 5-6 p.m. at our shelter located at 811 E. 10th St. Nothing is required other than a breathalyzer test we have everyone take for the safety of all who come to our shelter.”
Hunter continued: “We also have a food pantry at our office located at 810 E. 11th St. Our office hours are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.; we close for lunch from noon-1 p.m. We would like to simplify the process for UTPB students. If they will bring their student ID, and fill out a short form, we would be happy to provide them with groceries.”
The Salvation Army can be contacted at [email protected] by calling
Also, to the rescue comes the Baptist Student Ministry organization every Wednesday at UTPB in the Student Activity center who kindly provides lunch and mass service with the ultimate goal of spreading their Christian beliefs across the campus.
Events like the ones BSM offers, can save the day, and probably the stomachs of every student that is afraid of running out of food before they could buy more. Just like the other students, I certainly benefit from not having to use my money for lunch on Wednesdays because I know I can count on BSM.
Michelle Murray, a member of the organization and student at UTPB, when asked what BSM is, she said that “it is a statewide organization,” which mission is to “reach out to students and show the love of Christ through free lunches and Bible study,” Murray said.
Aside from free lunch, the BSM events are a good opportunity to shake off any stress.
“We want to bring the community together, we love seeing people hanging out, and being encouraged by the message that we bring,” Murray stated.
The members of BSM are aware that university students are constantly facing hard times.
Murray mentioned that everyone is welcome to this event even if they do not follow the same religion.
“Christ is for everyone. We want everyone to know about Him. It is the people’s choice and we are going to serve and love then regardless of their religion,” she reassured.
The menu includes a variation of foods. Some days they would serve soup and others fried chicken. They always provide a full meal that includes salads, fruits, dessert, and tea or water.
In each opportunity, you would be able to see how Donny Cortimilia, one of the directors of BSM, is happy to be there and serve every person that goes to get a plate of food. Usually, there are from three to six members of the BSM organization serving the food.
On a recent Wednesday, twenty people sat down and ate. However, many people attend, grab the food and head out, which means that they probably serve food to more than that amount.
At some point, while I was conversing with Murray, I heard that Cortimilia shout, “O.K. guys there is still some food left.” Sometimes they do not get much traffic and they leave with plenty of food. The last thing they want is to return home with food left.
Midland College is another institution where the BSM organization provides food and mass service every Thursday in the Club Room at noon.
Murray mentioned that some students that are not part of the organization volunteer to set up the tables and equipment before and
after the event. Others volunteer to do community service like the one they will be doing soon at the Midland Baptist Crisis Center where they will be sorting out clothes.
Another event that the BSM organization conducts is karaoke night on Fridays.