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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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First Year Eats provides food resources to freshmen

Photo by Courtesy
First Year Eats

Whether it be teaching students how to make nachos in a mug or distributing a warm, home-cooked enchilada meal, First Year Eats provides a diverse range of recipes for freshmen on campus in need of food.
Established in 2018, First Year Eats is a Living-Learning Program for students within the Office of LAUNCH and Office of Student Success that provides meals to participating freshmen in Clements Hall. The program’s main food events alternate between bi-weekly Monday meals and Thursday crockpot meals.
On Thursday, Sept. 30, First Year Eats is distributing a Crockpot Cowboy Casserole meal and opens their weekly grocery store pick-up. Even during the coronavirus pandemic, the program remains steadfast in providing free and nutritious food to its students.
First Year Eats Program Coordinator Bonnie Davila said the program was created because they heard many students were running out of their meal plans near the end of the semester and didn’t have many options to get food.
“We found out that food insecurity is a big factor in college students… [and] we started brainstorming and figuring out ideas of what we could do to help,” Davila said. “It [was] a big concern with us, particularly in our student programs, because a lot of our students maybe couldn’t go… home to ask [their parents] for funding because they are coming to school on a lot of financial aid and scholarship assistance.”
Alexandra Gonzales, a kinesiology sophomore and team lead member for First Year Eats, said the program strives to provide food assistance to individuals who are having a hard time financially.
“This program for college students right now is helping them alleviate the stress of worrying where their next meal is going to come from,” Gonzalez said. “Our mission is to eliminate the hunger insecurity gap [for] those who are low-income and who are struggling to get groceries, to buy their food and have limited meal plans.”
Shelby Hearn, educational administration graduate student and the First Year Eats graduate advisor, said the program is only currently available for the 104 participants in Clements Hall.
“The First Year Eats program is a part of The Hunger Consortium project [of] Innovation[X],” Hearn said. “It’s a pilot program that is a test run to see how we could provide this for a larger scale. We have it for one residence hall right now in hopes that it will eventually be able to spread to multiple.”
This year, Hearn said the program has four different options to provide food to the students, who have to sign up to pick it up every week.
“We have free eggs that [are] provided by one of our sponsors,” Hearn said. “We have [Thursday] crockpot meals where the students can come and check out a crockpot, and we’ll actually provide the meal for them. We’re [also] doing Monday meals, providing casserole dishes [in] serving sizes. The last thing that we’re doing is the First Year Eats store, where we pick up various amounts of grocery store items like granola bars, snacks [and] ramen. We provide the students with a goodie bag, [and] it’s completely free.”
As well as doing their best to implement social distancing and contactless delivery, Hearn said the program is trying to provide additional informational content on their social media page.
“We’re doing Instagram live events on Monday nights, usually around 7 or 8 [p.m.],” Hearn said. “We’re also posting random videos like how to cook a quick, easy egg in a mug [and] how to wash your hands properly. [These are] the events that we have planned that are open to everyone.”
Overall, Davila said First Year Eat’s primary focus is not only to provide home-cooked comfort food for the students living in the dorm but also to offer easy recipes they can refer back to when they have a kitchen in which to cook.
“We are working on a YouTube channel where we’ll post a lot of cooking videos,” Davila said. “I teach freshman seminar classes that sometimes students don’t even know how to boil pasta or how to make a scrambled egg just on a stove or how to really ground meat. These are things we want to teach them so that they can take and watch these videos for the years going forward.”

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