Organization unites students, serves community through food

Hannah Daniel

Students dined on Chipotle, Tiff’s Treats, P.F. Chang’s, Panera Bread and Papa John’s at the first charity buffet hosted by The Austin Meal Movement.

The $12 admission fee from Monday’s event in the Student Activity Center will be donated to local nonprofit Keep Austin Fed, which is dedicated to ending hunger in Austin. 

TAMM is a student organization striving to unite food and philanthropy, said Shirley Li, administrative chair and biochemistry sophomore.

“Cooking is kind of a universal language,” Li said. “Everyone has experienced it. … That’s something that comes across no matter what culture you’re from and no matter where you’re from. Through this organization, we can really bond through that.”

Dominique Bai, a volunteer coordinator and nutrition sophomore, said aside from bringing students together through cooking, TAMM seeks to serve the greater Austin community through volunteering
and fundraising.

“It’s good learning some everyday skills like how to cook an omelet,” Bai said. “But a big part of [TAMM] is philanthropy.”

TAMM’s beneficiary, Keep Austin Fed, collects surplus food from commercial kitchens and distributes it to local charities serving people in need. According to the nonprofit’s website, one in seven people are food insecure, meaning they do not know where their next meal will come from, and approximately 30 percent of food in the U.S. goes to waste.

A key aspect of Keep Austin Fed’s work is providing healthy, nutritious food to those in need, since many low-income individuals cannot afford to purchase these typically pricier items, Bai said.

Neuroscience sophomore Grace Thompson attended the buffet and said she feels Keep Austin Fed is worth supporting, especially since it caters to the needs of the local community.

“We’re thinking about the starving kids in Africa, but we don’t even realize the amount of people who don’t know where their food is going to come from here in Austin,” Thompson said. “I think it’s good to take care of our own.”

Founded in 2015, TAMM hosts weekly general meetings, cooking socials and volunteer events.

TAMM general meetings feature guest speakers such as the founder of Don Japanese Food Truck Edward Sumner and the University’s executive chef Robert Mayberry, who demonstrate and discuss various culinary techniques with the members.

At weekly cooking socials, members follow a recipe and then eat the finished dish together.

TAMM’s recent volunteer projects include preparing breakfast for disabled artists through local nonprofit Imagine Art and working on the Feed My People Program’s community garden.