UT Outpost has delivered free groceries to 214 students in its first week of operations after closing its physical food pantry.
The first week of deliveries surpassed the 187 visitors the Outpost received in February, with 144 deliveries on Friday alone, said Sara Kennedy, manager of strategic and executive communication for the Office of the Dean of Students.
The Outpost began deliveries on April 10 to students living in Austin. Deliveries are made every Tuesday and Friday, and students can pick from three delivery time slots, Kennedy said.
Although students can only access the service once a month, they only need an EID and completed delivery request form to qualify, Kennedy said.
"We have been seeing a lot of needs from students all over," Kennedy said, "It is an easily accessible resource that is just for students who may have lost their jobs. We understand that things are different right now, and folks need a little bit more support."
All students who have filled out the application have been accepted, except for those living outside of Austin city limits, Kennedy said. Those students were put in contact with Student Emergency Services to arrange contact with other resources, such as the Student Emergency Fund, she said.
The Outpost delivers between 20 and 25 pounds of food basics such as oatmeal, canned vegetables, fruits and vegetables. Students may also request specialized packages to accommodate food allergies and dietary restrictions for vegetarians and vegans.
“We're hoping that by providing some extra groceries here that we're going to be able to hold them over,” Kennedy said. “We want to add things together with what they have at home to create more filling healthy meals that will get them through.”
Deliveries are made by University staff, Kennedy said. To make the delivery system sustainable, a cap on total deliveries made by the Outpost will have to be put on each day, depending on the amount of staff available, she said.
"We don't anticipate any issues for our students," Kennedy said. "We have a system in place to try and make it as efficient as possible."
Kennedy said she hopes to keep the delivery system in place until students can visit the food pantry in person again.
Psychology junior Itssel Sanchez said the delivered food helped her avoid potential exposure at the grocery store.
"I don't have any way to get around, and I also don't have much money for groceries," Sanchez said. "(The UT Outpost) brought it to me, so I didn't worry about how to get to the grocery store and back."
Sanchez said she did not go to work for a month due to an injury, and the free groceries helped her recover some lost income.
Camila Douglas, a speech-language pathology junior, said she is trying to save as much money as possible in case she remains unemployed for a long time due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"My job completely closed, so they're paying us way less," Douglas said. "I'm trying to plan for the future things like my summer rent just because then I won't be getting any money from my job if it's not open."