The 12th Can remains committed to its mission of feeding current students, faculty and staff during the pandemic.
The 12th Can’s mission to eliminate hunger within the Texas A&M University community remains especially relevant during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has added extra stress to some members of Bryan-College Station who struggle with food insecurity.
The student-run nonprofit organization’s on-campus food pantry location has pivoted to an outdoor pick-up model in accordance with social distancing and sanitation guidelines. Executive Director Kelly Villarreal said that while the pantry’s typical amount of customers has dropped during the summer months due to a decrease of students in town, the pandemic has highlighted that many members of the Aggie community are still in need.
“A lot of them had their hours reduced, and some of them lost their jobs because of COVID-19, and they really needed some extra help putting food on the table and making sure they have nutritious food they can have access to,” Villarreal said.
Associate Director David Chapa said customers he has spoken to expressed relief that the pantry continues to operate.
“I remember one client specifically said he was just so happy that we were open and we were able to help him that time he came around,” Chapa said.
Rather than shopping the food pantry, customers can drive up to the back of the Mail Services Building at 957 Agronomy Road to pick up a bag of items. Student volunteers wearing masks and gloves load vehicles with a bag of food or hand them to walk-up clients.
Chapa said each bag of food weighs been 25-35 pounds and includes a well-rounded selection of shelf-stable items like pasta, rice, vegetables, fruits and proteins. Vegetarian options are also available.
The mobile distribution center has been open once per month during the summer, and will transition back to an every-other-week schedule on Wednesdays and Thursdays starting in August. The next openings will be Aug. 26-27 from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Villarreal and Chapa said The 12th Can has remained committed to its goal of eliminating food insecurity among the campus community despite the challenges created by most of its student volunteers living away from College Station during the summer and operations being moved outside. Several officers have driven back to town for openings to make sure the new procedures are running smoothly.
The organization, which was started in 2013, encourages any current student, staff or faculty member who needs help during the pandemic to use its services.
“We’re more than happy to help, or if anyone knows of someone who’s struggling to get food on their table, please reach out to us and we’ll do the best we can so they don’t have to worry about where their next meal will come from,” Villarreal said.
She said anyone who wishes to give to The 12th Can should email firstname.lastname@example.org. Details will be forthcoming in the fall about how to schedule contactless donation drop-offs.
Visit The 12th Can’s website for more information.