Texas A&M, Meals For Vets Join Forces To Battle Hunger On Campus
With grant funds from the Texas Veterans Commission and the efforts of several Texas A&M University officials, the new Meals for Vets program on the College Station campus will help address hunger by providing eligible student veterans with five meals per week from campus dining halls.
“There are numerous efforts across the Texas A&M University campus to help combat food insecurity among students,” said Texas A&M University System Director of Veteran Services Col. Gerald L. Smith. “With more than 1,150 student veterans on campus, the concern has become increasingly worrisome. Giving them easy access to free meals can make a significant difference in their college success.”
While all student veterans are encouraged to apply for the program, they must meet the following eligibility criteria to be approved:
- A minimum of 180 days of military service
- Submission of a DD-214 for proof of service
- Proof of income to ensure a maximum income threshold is not exceeded
To apply for the program, student veterans may contact the Veteran Resource & Support Center.
The Meals for Vets program, a project of Honor Veterans Now, aims to eliminate hunger in vulnerable military veterans with a focus on those under 60 years of age living in Texas. While the Older Americans Act of 1965 provides funding for people age 60 and over to receive meals, individuals under that age threshold are turned away. Among the general population, it is estimated that nearly 2 million veterans under the age of 60 battle food insecurity and 1.5 million veterans live in poverty. About 33 percent of the nation’s homeless population is comprised of veterans.
Smith, who also directs the Veteran Resource and Support Center at Texas A&M, joined forces with Chartwells, which manages dining services at Texas A&M, to conceptualize the program with several key staff members.
“There are a lot of misconceptions floating around out there about student veteran educational benefits,” Smith said. “The reality is that many student veterans do not receive GI Bill benefits that fully pay tuition and fees, resulting in those student veterans taking care of these expenses out of their monthly military stipends or other income, if any. These stipends typically do not cover basic bills, much less tuition and fees. The harsh truth is that a number of our student veterans struggle to make ends meet, and many of them are also supporting families.”
Chartwells Director of Operations Don Koshis jumped at the chance to be part of this initial campus movement.
“When the Office of Veteran Services approached us about implementing this program, we were eager to partner this fall to fulfill the mission of eliminating hunger for military veterans in the Aggie community,” Koshis said. “At Chartwells, we are committed to bettering lives in every community we touch, and we’re excited to welcome these guests into our dining halls to take charge of their nutrition and overall wellness.”