The Grub Hub Food Pantry is serving more students than ever, operating out of a new space in the Student Union that is more visible to campus and has more room to support students. Compared to September 2020, the pantry is now providing free food to seven times as many students and has expanded its offerings to include fresh, regional produce from local farmers and ranchers.
“There were two things we wanted to realize at the Grub Hub this year—moving into a centralized, visible space and becoming more of a part of our local food system,” says Becky Clausen, faculty advisor to the Grub Hub and professor of Sociology & Human Services.
The Grub Hub is a student-led food justice organization, now located across from the post office in the Student Union and open every weekday from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Any student can stop by the pantry and select from the assortment of free food with no questions asked. To help destigmatize food insecurity for students, the Grub Hub has always been student-led and student-run.
"People are endlessly thankful for the Grub Hub. Every shift is different but everyone who comes through the door is the same, so happy to have a place like the Grub Hub to come to."
“People are endlessly thankful for the Grub Hub,” says Meghan Watson, a student intern at the Grub Hub. “Every shift is different but everyone who comes through the door is the same, so happy to have a place like the Grub Hub to come to. Quite a few people walk in and share with me their emotions about their day, their stress from classes, or their housing situation. Every conversation ends with how the Grub Hub makes their day better or helps their situation.”
Increasing a sense of belonging for students is at the heart of the Grub Hub’s mission. Clausen says the students managing and volunteering at the pantry have their own way of creating an inviting space, with murals—painted by alumna Tatyana Trujillo (Environmental Studies, ’20)—and Post-it Notes for self-expression stuck all around.
Clausen says to “shift the dignity of the shopping experience at a food pantry,” students are allowed to pick from a range of foods that they might like. This year, there is a lot to choose from.
Through their Fueling Safe and Thriving Communities program, Atmos Energy gifted the Grub Hub $20,000 to put toward operations. With this funding, student interns are now paid and the Grub Hub has launched a new collaboration with the Good Food Collective to purchase food from local producers to stock shelves with. In the past, the pantry was only able to offer local food when farmers donated it. Now, GFC purchases fresh produce at wholesale price from producers and delivers it to the Grub Hub, bringing in a steady stream of the season’s bounty to students.
“We wanted to provide students with consistent, fresh options and we also wanted to pay farmers and ranchers a fair market price for their food, which was in alignment with Atmos’ philanthropy goals,” says Clausen.
Kale, peaches, cucumbers, Blue Bird flour, Old Fort ground beef and vegetables, locally made tortillas—it’s all available for FLC students. Of the 7,240 pounds of food distributed last month, nearly 1,000 pounds came in from local producers, an astounding accomplishment made possible through the Atmos gift. Throughout the academic year, Grub Hub and GFC will source regional products and, even when it’s not the time for seasonal produce, offer local root vegetables, eggs, and meat.
“Everyone is always ecstatic to see our fridges stocked with produce,” says Watson. “I think it means a lot to the students to see that there is more in this room than canned fruits or veggies.”