UT-Austin faculty, students help community through emergency funding, food delivery

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Photo Credit: Rocky Higine | Daily Texan Staff

Various university and student organizations are giving resources to UT students and community members during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Students can request financial aid from Student Emergency Services, while faculty can place orders with student-founded organization Good Apple for food deliveries. Social work students are also able to request food deliveries from the Steve Hicks School of Social Work through a pantry. 

The Student Emergency Fund, a collection of money set aside to help students in crisis, typically provides people with $300, and up to $500 for extreme circumstances, said Kelly Soucy, director of Student Emergency Services. The fund can be used to pay electrical or medical bills, among other things, for COVID-19 related concerns, Soucy said. 

Soucy said students can apply for the fund online if they have not previously received an award from the fund or any money from the CARES Act in March. For a student to receive long-term financial support, Soucy said, they would be connected with Texas One Stop and the Financial Aid Office to better address their needs.

“Our emergency fund is really a one time thing, addressing the immediate impact of an emergency, and then we support by getting them connected to long term financial resources,” Soucy said.

 

The School of Social Work’s Food Pantry began making curbside food deliveries, such as canned goods and eggs, in March to social work students affected by COVID-19, said Cassie Bernhardt, director of development for the School of Social Work. 

“The need is growing,” Bernhardt said. “We are taking (food) to students who have lost their jobs, their parents have lost their jobs, grandparents have lost their jobs.”

The pantry only serves social work students, who can request a delivery through emails from the school, Bernhardt said. Funding comes from the Steve Hicks advisory counsel, alumni and miscellaneous donors, Bernhardt said, but the legwork is all done by faculty and staff.

“It is a team thing where we all pitch in a little bit,” Bernhardt said. “Whether it’s a Sam’s Club run, or an H-E-B run, or an Amazon Fresh order, we’re piece-mealing it together. We have an alum who has a chicken farm, and they’ve donated fresh eggs.”

Good Apple, another food delivery service, was founded last August by UT students to diminish food insecurity in Travis County, said Zack Timmons, co-founder and CEO of Good Apple. The service delivers a free box of food to a family in need with every paying customer, said Timmons, a fourth-year medical student.

Good Apple has partnered with Dell Medical School for the Stay Home, Stay Healthy initiative, a program focused on delivering food to the elderly and high risk individuals. Good Apple also delivers groceries to UT faculty, said Michael Measom, Good Apple co-director of Impact.

“When the pandemic started, there was a huge surge in food insecurity and there was a big need for food delivery,” said fourth-year medical student Measom. “UT has helped us organize … a lot of the philanthropy we have been able to obtain.”