Texas Border Business
The UTRGV Campus Food Security Initiative (CFSI) aims to eliminate hunger, foster healthy eating habits, and enhance access to locally grown or locally sourced fresh produce. It is achieved through a partnership between UTRGV’s Office of Professional Education & Workforce Development (PEWD) and Baptist Student Ministry (BSM) Global Blend, with unprecedented professional development embedded within the initiative to help build professional soft skills for student employees hired specifically for this initiative.
Background: A 2019 research study conducted by Graduate Sustainability Fellows indicated that about 44% of the students surveyed reported that they are experiencing hunger on an ongoing basis. The CFSI was developed to address these hunger issues and launched on April 17, 2020, in the middle of COVID-19 pandemic to serve the campus community, especially UTRGV students. As of November 2020, CFSI has served over 3500 people through weekly events on Fridays where fresh Produce and plant-based fresh meals are made available to the campus community in a “farmer’s market” type of setting on Edinburg and Brownsville campuses with a “pay what you feel” pricing model, which eliminates the stigma of being labeled as hungry or needy. About 50% of the people served are students with about 35% faculty/staff and 15% community members making up the rest.
Through these weekly events, and various promotional activities, CFSI utilizes the following strategies to bring about the intended outcome and to accomplish the mission of CFSI.
Engage: Tasty and nutritious plant-based meals created in-house at the BSM Global Blends kitchen, under the direction of a professional chef, using seasonal & locally grown Produce are offered at that location on a weekly basis as single-serving meals at the “pay what you feel” donations. The donation is collected by BSM. The student Research Assistants hired for this initiative work under faculty or staff advisors to learn how to farm, to prepare healthy food in the kitchen, source locally grown fresh Produce, and promote CFSI activities via social media platforms and create food demos. These student employees engage the campus community in various ways. This team-centric work environment also allows them to learn work skills in a nurturing environment while influencing their peers, friends and family to follow a healthy lifestyle.
Educate & Empower: The recipes of plant-based meals are made available online on CFSI website that also includes wealth of other related information to educate people on how to incorporate healthy alternatives in their lifestyle. Farmer’s market information, food facts and food demos are shared with campus community using social media platforms, including Instagram (@utrgv.cfsi) and Facebook (@utrgv.cfsi).
“Sustainable food systems” is at the core of this initiative and every effort is made to use locally grown produce (during growing season) and locally sourced produce (during off season) and compostable kitchen waste is transported to the university farm, Hub of Prosperity. The initiative is currently subsidized by UTRGV in the form of student employment while BSM utilizes the weekly donations to purchase fresh Produce and ingredients needed for prepared meals.
To sustain this initiative and to continue serving the campus community through this partnership with BSM, we would like to request funds from generous donors. Here are the two options to choose from to support this worthy project:
If by credit card, click here
1)Choose $ amount
2)Give to Choose “Campus Food Security Initiative” Option on the drop-down menu
3)Add information about self/organization, payment info, etc.
4)At the bottom of info page, there will be a box to click on matching gift if applicable
Or if you want to send a check:
Make Payable to University of Texas Rio Grande Valley State on the memo: Campus Food Security Initiative