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Campus ministry giving free groceries to local college students July 28

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Devin Rardin, North Texas Daily

Local college students who find themselves short of food during the summer months can get help in filling that shortage later this month on the University of North Texas campus.

Students from UNT, Texas Woman's University and North Central Texas College can grab those free groceries at the Denton Wesley Foundation building from 1 to 3 p.m. Friday, July 28. Anyone taking classes can participate after presenting their student identification.

The Denton Wesley Foundation is a United Methodist campus ministry located between Kerr and Maple halls. Its free grocery program, Shiloh, is designed to relieve some pressure from college students.

"If it comes down to being able to pay for your electricity or pay for food, sorry, but sometimes electricity comes first," said Amanda Baker, a ministry administrator. "Sometimes food comes first and then you don't have electricity. We want to relieve that pressure for the community, for those who are really in need."

During fall and spring semesters, the Shiloh program happens every other Friday. This is the first time the ministry has offered Shiloh over the summer.

The ministry wanted to accommodate the students on campus after the spring semester ended. Instead of every other week, they decided to have Shiloh once a month in June and July.

UNT junior and Shiloh intern Katrina Krauss is in charge of organizing the free grocery events.

"I really just like to help out my community in any way that I can," Krauss said. "My mom, when she was in college, really needed assistance. So, I guess I found a way to help people like my mom with giving out free groceries."

The food is donated to Denton Wesley Foundation by the Tarrant County Food Bank. Churches such as First United Methodist in Flower Mound and First United Methodist Church in Denton also help with donations.

Baker says they use anywhere from 500 to 1,500 pounds of food. They work with nonperishables and don't have anything refrigerated.

Some of the food includes Fiber One bars, bags of rice and beans, and canned meats. Students can fill one grocery bag as packed as they want.

Hannah Hampton, a junior at UNT, has participated in Shiloh.

"It was really neat. I could just go around and take the amount of food I needed," Hampton said.

On average, 470 students per semester attended Shiloh last year. The line would start in the building and almost reach out the doors, according to Baker.

"When we realized it was almost 500 students per semester coming here, we [saw] a need, a huge need. And we are trying to fulfill it," Baker said.  

The free grocery event started two years ago when all the food they had fit into a closet. Krauss hopes the facility will continue to grow and eventually resemble a grocery store.

Shiloh makes eating right easier for UNT junior Vanessa Rodriguez. 

"Budgeting is hard and then eating healthy is hard, especially grocery shopping," Rodriguez said. "So it's easier to eat out and spend more money."

Baker said students have told her they would have starved without Shiloh.

"We want for these students to be able to not only survive but to really thrive and make it in this environment, so they can get their degrees and maybe pay it back or pay it forward to someone else in the future," Baker said.