AUSTIN (KXAN) — Food insecurity impacts more people than you might think, and many of them are college students.

“You don’t really realize how much people can stress about what they are going to eat,” said Elijah Ponce, a student at the University of Texas Austin.

Ponce volunteers at the UT Outpost, which is an on campus facility where students and their needs are a top priority.

“We are really big on trying to provide nutritious food, but also completely free to all the students here.”

The UT Outpost offers free food, basic hygiene items and even a clothes closet for students in need.

“Food insecurity does impact college students nationwide and here at UT,” said Valeria Martin, assistant director of basic needs in the office of the dean of students.

Martin said the UT Outpost is a busy place with hundreds of students stopping by.

“Sometimes on average we can see up to 300 students per week,” Martin said.

Donations go a long way in the UT Outpost said Martin as she showed a basket filled with recently donated items.

“We will take these items once they have been donated and take them to the pantry,” Martin said.

The donations of rice and beans she was carrying are all because someone parked in the wrong spot.

“Parking at a meter without paying or an expired meter,” said Dennis Delaney, UT’s assistant director of Parking and Transportation.

The UT outpost is partnering with UT’s Parking and Transportation department to clear traffic citations by making a donation of rice or beans.

So far this year, Longhorns cleared more than $3,000 in citations through donations.

“It is a good program and it is helping other people,” said Delaney.

Donations depend on how much your citation cost you and it only works one time.

  • $15-$35 Citations: Five items (of 27-oz cans and/or 5-lb bags) are required for citation dismissal.
  • $36-$75 Citations: Ten items (of 27-oz cans and/or 5-lb bags) are required for citation dismissal.

“It has been very successful,” Delaney said. “So, we are going to extend it through the end of the month of November.”

For the UT Outpost that means more donations and for Martin and her team it means more students they can serve.

“I do really believe they are deserving of meeting those basic needs and being able to succeed,” Martin said.

From Aug. 16 to Oct. 31, more than 10,000 qualifying citations were issued. Citations during this time are the only citations that can be cleared through donations.

Last spring, 640 cans of soup were donated clearing up more than $5,600 in parking citations.

If you would like to donate clothes, food or money to the UT Outpost you can find more information on their website.