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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

TRIO STARS students aid community at food bank

South+students+Latricia+Douglas+and+Jasmine+Carey+help+package+and+sort+food+items+Nov.+17+to+be+delivered+to+food+pantries+around+Tarrant+County.+They+volunteered+through+the+Students+Targeting+and+Reaching+Success+program.
South students Latricia Douglas and Jasmine Carey help package and sort food items Nov. 17 to be delivered to food pantries around Tarrant County. They volunteered through the Students Targeting and Reaching Success program. Photo by Lacey Phillips/The Collegian

By Richard Marmolejo/campus editor

South Campus students came together and volunteered to help feed the community Nov. 17.

The Students Targeting and Reaching Success (STARS) program is a federally funded student support service that serves 170 students each semester.

“With the students that we work with, from time to time, there have been issues with food insecurities,” program coordinator Chasity Alexander said. “And we just wanted to be able to find an agency that really works with those issues.”

Volunteering is something Alexander feels is important, and she wanted to ensure students had the opportunity to give back, she said.

“They get an understanding of how the different food pantries work with Tarrant Area Food Bank,” Alexander said. “They also get to see, in my opinion, how much food does not get used at different grocery stores and from their different vendors that they receive the food from.”

TRIO academic advisor Zoi Tucker believes volunteer opportunities are rewarding and can benefit students in a variety of ways.

“TRIO is a [federal] community support program so we believe in giving back to the community,” she said. “I think it’s good to build up networking and community sponsorship to assist our students.”

The STARS program has a history of working with different agencies, like the Presbyterian Night Shelter and Cowboy Santas, and tries to provide students an opportunity to give back every month, Alexander said.

“Sometimes for students, it’s a time of reflection,” she said. “I think it allows our students to have empathy for one another. It allows them to be able to put themselves in someone else’s shoes for a moment and help someone else.”

The Tarrant Area Food Bank covers 13 North Texas counties and holds a fundamental belief that having food to eat is a right and not a privilege, TAFB senior director of communications and marketing Anita Foster said.

“Our mission is fairly simple. It’s to get food to people who need food to eat first and foremost. Every day, we use volunteer groups that help us pack and sort food so that we can get it distributed to one of our 270 food assistance partners.”

“Our mission is fairly simple,” she said. “It’s to get food to people who need food to eat first and foremost. Every day, we use volunteer groups that help us pack and sort food so that we can get it distributed to one of our 270 food assistance partners.”

The food bank has seen growing numbers of donations and contributions throughout the community, from volunteers to vendors, that have helped make a dent in the hunger problem that the world suffers from today, Foster said.

“Every year, we produce around 25 million meals,” she said. “That’s 500,000 meals a week that we make access to. And that’s shocking [because] it really shows how many people need it.”

The food bank also values and appreciates its volunteers who help make a change in the community, Foster said.

“We really couldn’t get through the day without volunteers,” she said. “We have three shifts a day of volunteers that just pack and sort food. Every day, we use over 100 volunteers. There’s thousands and thousands of pounds that have to be sorted and boxed in order to get out to the food pantries.”

Foster encourages everyone to get involved and explained how a single dollar can transfer into five meals at the food bank.

“It [hunger] is very invisible,” she said. “One in six people in the Metroplex, right here, goes daily without food to eat, and one in four children everyday faces hunger. There’s no ZIP code in America that does not have hunger, from the wealthiest to the least wealthy.”

South student and STARS member Jasmine Carey said she enjoyed her time volunteering at the food bank.

“I like serving others,” Carey said. “It’s just what it is all about. Instead of being so selfish, I’d rather be selfless and just serve others knowing that the meals we are packaging are for people who are probably less fortunate to afford any kind of meal.”

Carey learned to be mindful of not wasting food while working the assembly line, she said.

“It’s really interesting seeing all the food and wondering why people are throwing all this food in the trash,” she said. “And some of it is like, some people can eat that.”

STARS member Gabriel Villafranca appreciated his first time volunteering and seeing all the people that showed up to serve a common purpose.

“It’s good, and I’m really enjoying it,” Villafranca said. “I didn’t even know there was a food bank kind of close by. But I wanted to help out and make a difference.”

STARS member Tyeshun Bradford, who also had his first experience giving back to the community during the event, was amazed at the positive environment, he said.

“Everyone working together with a smile and just giving back to people in need,” he said. “That’s just so amazing to me.”

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