"Us Against Hunger" — A Student's Story

Texas Tech University senior Karen Garcia is encouraging support for WFP on her campus. In this photo, she’s leading a Freerice tournament. (Photo courtesy Karen Garcia)
Even as a child, Karen Garcia, a 21-year-old student at Texas Tech University in Texas, US, was dedicated to making a difference. She’s recently channeled this passion into helping WFP. Here's her story in her own words.

Since I was very young, I’ve been passionate about helping others. It is second nature to me. I was always involved in my community through projects at school and fundraisers. At 10, I was granted the Daughters of the American Revolution Youth Citizenship and Service Award, which would become the inspiration for my future work.

At 18, I packed my bags and left El Paso, Texas, for college in Lubbock, Texas. As I began exploring the city that would become my home, I learned that we had a devastatingly large homeless population and not much was being done to help.

Motivated and determined to make a difference, I began running “Tupper Meals” out of my dorm room and, later, my house. In this program, I collected plastic containers and restaurant takeout boxes and filled them with home-cooked meals. I prepared five to seven boxes and drove around neighboring areas looking for those in need of a meal. I felt a sense of comfort knowing that fewer people would sleep hungry that night.

But I wanted to make a bigger difference. When a professor learned of my work, he suggested I look into the World Food Programme. I immediately became mesmerized by the organization’s activities and its impact around the world.

The information on the WFP website opened my eyes to so many variables that are part of world hunger. Population, gender, limited resources, agricultural development and culture are all factors that I saw in a different light. I was surprised to learn that my country also suffers from hunger. Everything I knew about helping others changed that day. I now wanted to expand my work and reach a larger goal, and I wanted to do it with the help of the students and faculty at my university and in my community.

I can’t say that it’s been easy. It takes extremely hard work to keep young adults interested and motivated to help. But I continued to make my best effort to introduce WFP to my peers. I began taking small steps and hosting Tweetathons and Freerice tournaments. Five or fewer students would show up, and I felt discouraged and doubted I would ever get any closer to making a difference.

Persistence is definitely important to keep students engaged. I began incorporating more modern techniques like Instagram posts and mass Snapchat clips of Molly’s story. I also encouraged students to download the Charity Miles app and keep it activated while moving through campus.

I have officially registered “TTU Students in Support of WFP” as a campus organization and could not be any more proud. I look forward to educating others and encouraging them to make the difference that this world needs. It is us against hunger after all, and I plan to win.

(Karen Garcia is a senior at Texas Tech University studying Exercise Sports Science and Biology.)