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

Food Security Agency to start grocery shuttle system for students

Maya Kiselstein

A student government agency will begin a pilot shuttle system in the spring that takes students from campus to the grocery store during the weekend. 

The Food Security Agency ensures students have reliable and affordable food access, said FSA Co-Director Erica Howard. Their free grocery shuttle system will transport students to a local H-E-B store. FSA is partnering with Parking and Transportation Services, who will provide new vans and drivers to take participants to the store. 

“I’m excited for students to be able to finally see that there is a system in place that makes them feel heard regarding food insecurity … seeing that students can depend on the University that promises to protect them,” said FSA Co-Director Dat Duong. 

The FSA hasn’t announced an official launch date for the shuttle. However, they will meet with PTS on Feb. 16 to further discuss the service’s logistics, Howard said. 

“The (PTS) director, Blanca Gamez, is super gung-ho about it… She’s basically in the process right now of operationalizing what we proposed to her,” Howard said. “We are wanting to generate awareness, and the more students know about it, the more it will be used and will be helpful.” 

The shuttle vans are wheelchair accessible, according to an FSA Instagram post. This is important for social work junior Fabiola Amaya, who said she wants a transportation system that accommodates disabled students like her. 

“(My friends and I) use Metro Access, which is a specific transportation for disabled people, but it’s oftentimes not the most reliable,” Amaya said. “You have to have almost this three-hour window because they give you half an hour for pickup and drop off, plus the time you’re actually spending shopping for groceries … Hopefully this system can offer more flexibility.” 

Although the pilot program will only pick up students on campus, a year from now, Howard said she wants the shuttle to also include students who live outside of dorms and campus residencies. According to the 2021 State of Food Insecurity at UT Austin Report, 68% of food-insecure students live off campus. 

Both Duong and Howard said they want the shuttle to eventually function every day of the week and operate independently. 

“It’s nice to see people from all parts of campus come together for this mission,” Duong said. “I’m excited to see what changes we can make not only in UT, but (spreading) out to the greater Austin area.”

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