Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

UT Student Government launches new agency to lessen student stress of food insecurity

Atahan Koksoy

UT Student Government launched a new Food Insecurity Action Agency in September to aid students experiencing food insecurity. 

The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines food insecurity as the inconsistent access to safe and nutritious foods that comprise a well-rounded diet. Former UTSG Vice President Isabel Agbassi said the Food Insecurity Action Agency hopes to raise awareness surrounding the issue of food insecurity and provide adequate resources to students experiencing it. According to a 2021 national college health assessment, 37.7% of students at UT have experienced some form of food insecurity. 

Agbassi, a public health senior, built the infrastructure for the Food Insecurity Action Agency from the grounds of the former Food Insecurity Action Team. UTSG transformed FIAT into the new agency to address campus food insecurity in a more long-term way.

“Since food insecurity is a prevalent and persistent issue on this campus that’s going to continue to exist, I thought it was important to institutionalize it into the Student Government’s infrastructure,” Agbassi said. “That’s the point of the agency.”

UTSG President Helen Getachew and Vice President William Ramirez said the implementation of this agency will allow for a more concentrated focus on addressing the issue than in the past. 

“By having an agency, having members who are passionate about food insecurity, we will have dedicated people working on that constantly,” Ramirez said.

Getachew said the Food Insecurity Action Agency will amplify the existing resources dedicated to combating food insecurity, such as UT Outpost, an Office of the Dean of Students program that offers free groceries and free professional clothing to all UT students.

“One of the bigger things that we wanted to address, not only just food insecurity, (was)  working closely with UT Outpost to see if there’s any help in different ways that they can gauge student input,” Getachew said.

In UT Outpost’s various food pantries across campus, healthy and shelf-stable items are readily stocked to support food-insecure students, according to Valeria Martin, assistant director for basic needs at the Office of the Dean of Students.

“A student could potentially face food insecurity at any point while they’re a student, it could be for a prolonged period of time or even a short period of time,” Martin said. “There isn’t necessarily a criteria that a student needs to meet in order to visit UT Outposts.”

Getachew said those who are interested in combating food insecurity on campus are welcome to apply to the Food Insecurity Action Agency. She said, in particular, she hopes agency members can brainstorm and advocate for new ways to raise awareness surrounding food insecurity for UT students.

“I would say so long as you’re passionate, we open it to every applicant,” Getachew said. “ Just make sure you keep in mind the impact and how it affects students.”

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