September 15, 2014
For as long as Karen Garcia can remember, she has had a passion for helping others.
“It is second nature to me,” she said. “I was always involved in my community through projects at school and fundraisers.”
Garcia, a senior exercise and sport science and biology major from El Paso, was granted the Daughters of the American Revolution Youth Citizenship and Service Award at the age of 10. She says this award became the inspiration for her future work.
At age 18, shortly after arriving at Texas Tech University, Garcia noticed the large homeless population in Lubbock and the lack of help available to them. She started “Tupper Meals” out of her residence hall and later out of her house. In this program, she collected plastic containers and restaurant takeout boxes and filled them with home-cooked meals. She prepared five to seven boxes for breakfast, lunch and dinner and drove around looking for those in need of a meal.
“I felt a sense of comfort knowing that fewer people would sleep hungry that night,” Garcia said.
When a Texas Tech professor learned of her work, he suggested she look into the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).
“The information on the WFP website opened my eyes to so many variables that are part of world hunger,” Garcia said. “Population, gender, limited resources, agricultural development and culture are all factors that I saw in a different light.”
Garcia makes "Tupper Meals" for the homeless.
“Everything I knew about helping others changed that day. I now wanted to expand my work and reach a larger goal, and I wanted to do it with the help of the students and faculty at my university and in my community.
After becoming involved with the WFP, Garcia began recruiting her peers. She took small steps by hosting events on Twitter to inspire social media engagement and Freerice tournaments, an event where students play a computerized vocabulary game that raises rice for WFP for every correct answer.
“Five or fewer students would show up, and I felt discouraged and doubted I would ever get any closer to making a difference,” Garcia said. “Persistence is definitely important to keep students engaged. I began incorporating more modern techniques like Instagram posts and mass Snapchat. I also encouraged students to download the Charity Miles app, an app that raises meals during physical activity, and keep it activated while moving through campus.”
Garcia also has officially registered “TTU Students in Support of World Food Programme” as a campus organization to encourage students to take a stand against hunger.
“I look forward to educating others and encouraging them to make the difference that this world needs,” Garcia said. “It is us against hunger after all, and I plan to win.”
What is your favorite spot on campus?
The student library. There is something about being in there working on homework or studying that makes me feel extra focused. I love walking down the floors and seeing all the dedicated students and overhearing intellectual talks on all sorts of subjects.
What is your favorite Texas Tech Tradition?
Arbor Day. We have a beautiful campus and I love that we dedicate a day to continue to keep the grounds of the university looking alive regardless of the seasonal changes.
What is your favorite thing about being a Red Raider?
Our school spirit. We take great pride in being Red Raiders.
What is your favorite Texas Tech memory?
Touring Texas Tech Campus for the very first time while my brother, who is now alumni, was a freshman back in 2007.