The students in Chef Jodi Duryea’s baking class at the University of North Texas have supplied the campus food pantry with their freshly baked goods this past semester.
Duryea conceived of the idea with Kim Williams, the chair of the Hospitality and Tourism Management Department, and Jana Hawley, the dean of the College of Merchandising, Hospitality, and Tourism.
“We have 17 students in class, and they have to make at least two dozen rolls or two loaves of bread,” Duryea told the Denton-Record Chronicle. “We have a lot of product and didn’t know what to do with it.”
According to Duryea, “We thought it was a really nice way of helping out in the community. We told students, ‘You’re welcome to take home as much as you want, but anything you don’t want, put away for the food pantry.’ They’re really so generous, and very few took home their creations.”
According to the Denton-Record Chronicle, a few students privately told Duryea how the food pantry had helped them.
“It broke my heart,” Duryea said. “A couple told me on the side, ‘It saved me.’ They’re so excited to give back. You have to have a heart of service to be any good in hospitality. Most people who are good at hospitality do it because they love people and want to see them happy.”
A sophomore in the baking class, Noora Haghar, said she and her roommates visited the pantry once during their freshman year.
“It was really gratifying to me to think that a freshman like I was last year could be getting my baked goods,” Haghar told the Denton-Record Chronicle.
Other students like Luis Lopez hope to turn the practical skills they learn into a career.
“It helped me develop skills I’m going to need in the industry,” Lopez, who’s a junior, said. “I would think: ‘How can I limit as much stuff as possible from going wrong. This is going to be for others to eat.’ I would ask myself, ‘Is this something I would eat?’ There have been a couple instances where I made a product that was definitely not food pantry-worthy.”
The UNT Food Pantry presented by Kroger was opened in 2015. Since opening, students have visited the pantry over 11,000 times. The associate dean of students, Renee McNamara, is the one who runs the pantry. According to McNamara, students facing food insecurity is a bigger issue than people realize.
“People don’t always think about college students facing food insecurity,” she said. “But there’s a real push nationwide to bring awareness to the issue. There has been so much education about what a healthy, nutrient-dense diet looks like. You can’t learn if you’re hungry. More universities are starting to talk about building food pantries on their campuses.”