UT Farm Stand Provides Accessible and Affordable Fresh Produce to Students
By Taryn Jones
Reporting Texas TV
AUSTIN, Texas — Dozens of students lined up on Speedway on a chilly Wednesday morning to buy fresh fruits, vegetables and other groceries at the UT Farm Stand.
The Farm Stand is a student-run program with the aim to provide students with healthy, high-quality food at low prices. Soaring food costs have made fresh produce and baked goods harder to afford for some students, and the Farm Stand set out to address this in its last on-campus event of the semester.
Sophomore Katia Petrosky was among the student shoppers.
“I actually bought some sweet potatoes today because I love sweet potatoes and the prices here are just great,” Petrosky said. “Even some of their other vegetables are definitely cheaper just looking at the prices compared to what I get at H-E-B.”
UT Housing and Dining sustainability coordinator Alejandra Marquez said the Farm Stand partners with distributors like Farm to Table to source food from locations around Texas such as Buena Tierra Farm in Fredonia and Fikes Family Farm in Fredericksburg.
“We’re fighting against food insecurity and unhealthy snack options that are huge issues all across the United States,” Marquez said.
The Farm Stand labels the locations where groceries come from and provides details such as how each item was harvested. Other produce grows on campus in community gardens, with all fruits and vegetables grown there sold for around one dollar.
That is good news for students because the U.S. Department of Agriculture found prices for groceries increased more than 12% percent since last fall.
“It just keeps going up,” Petrosky said. “Just things I kind of buy on a regular basis. I have to check my receipt every time.”
UTHD estimated there are over 5,500 students living on campus. A report by Austin Residence said there are an additional 17,000 students residing in the West Campus neighborhood. However, there are few nearby options to buy fresh produce.
“The only place that we have really within walking distance of where I live is like Target, which is kind of expensive,” sophomore Haya Prasla said.
The Target next to campus sells individual sweet potatoes for 20 cents more than the Farm Stand. Oranges cost 50 cents more at Target than at the Farm Stand.
The other closest option for students is the Wheatsville Food Co-op, which is over a mile away from Jester Residence Hall, the largest dormitory on campus.
“Walking to grocery stores is really difficult unless you take the bus or get a ride,” Prasla said.
She does not own a car, which she said makes shopping even more difficult in severe weather. However, the Farm Stand allows her to buy fresh produce on the way home from class.
Marquez said the proximity to campus provides alternatives to fast food.
Students can find the Farm Stand under its signature white tent on Speedway every other Wednesday during the spring and fall semesters from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. It is now closed for winter break, but will reopen Jan. 25.