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You’re Feeding the Next Generation of Leaders

Published on September 19, 2021

When Mariela moved to Massachusetts from Arizona to begin her master’s degree in Public Policy at Brandeis University, the cold weather wasn’t the only thing that shocked her – the high costs of living did, too.

Fortunately, thanks to your commitment, The Greater Boston Food Bank was there to help.

Mariela shares, “Being isolated during the pandemic with new expenses, like books, rent, and high-speed internet – winter was very rough for me. I’m so grateful that I could count on receiving food.”

Local university graduate student Mariela Martinez accepts a delivery from fellow Brandeis student Bola Lamidi outside her Waltham home.

Mariela is one of the graduate students of Brandeis University who participates in FRESH, Food & Resources for Equitable and Sustainable Health, a program that works closely with Healthy Waltham, a GBFB partner agency, to provide hungry students with food. FRESH serves around 10% of the student population at Brandeis, and Mariela’s one of 80 students who receives a package of fresh vegetables and non-perishable items delivered to her student housing.

“They’re very intentional about providing healthy meals, I get cans of tuna and chicken, beans, fresh carrots, and cucumbers…” Mariela pauses, and then exclaims, “They even gave students turkey for the holidays! It’s very thoughtful.”

Mariela spent Thanksgiving on-campus but was able to save up part-time earnings to travel home for Christmas break. “Christmas Eve is actually my birthday, so being able to afford the trip home and have tamales with my family was the best gift of all,” Mariela says with a smile.

While studying full-time, Mariela works part-time on campus training student leaders on equitable, community-centered practices. “People think students are young and dependent on their parents. That’s just not the case.” Mariela is right – nationally, the average age of a typical college student is 26 years old.

She continues, “The pandemic has changed a lot for students, but having access to food because there is a community of support surrounding us, knowing that places like Healthy Waltham and The Greater Boston Food Bank exist, it gives me strength.”

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