Yahaira Garcia, a third-year business management major at Lindsey Wilson College, is passionate about addressing food insecurity among college students. Leading a team of her peers, she gathered data to identify specific needs, then used that data to fuel the creation of a self-sustaining food and hygiene pantry on campus that is accessible to anyone. Their goal is to fill needs while students are on campus and connect students with existing resources in their home communities during school breaks. She is currently working with her peers to continue improving the work they already do while creating educational resources that will be shared with those served after their base-level needs are met. She also actively facilitates campus-wide and community collaboration in the services provided, ensuring shared ownership for enduring change both on campus and in the surrounding community.
My passion for addressing food insecurity on our college’s campus was first stirred when leading a small team of students through poverty research. We launched a survey to assess campus needs and found that a significant amount of students struggled to buy necessary food and hygiene items, both while at college and when returning to their home communities. In response to our findings, our team created a small food and necessities drive called Bob’s Basket, which has now evolved into a permanent student resource. As a leader, I utilize my knowledge of this social issue, as well as the business management practices learned through my studies, to manage volunteers and operations, improve processes, and foster healthy communication both within our team and in collaboration with campus and community partners. As food insecurity is not a static issue, I continually seek out strategic new ways to approach its solution, not only addressing the immediate need for food and hygiene items but also the long-term need for accessible educational resources for healthy lifestyles.