WEATHERFORD—Baptist Collegiate Ministries (BCM) is making a difference at Southwestern Oklahoma State University (SWOSU). On Mon., Dec. 11, BCM hosted a “packing party,” which involved packing and sealing 20,000 meals to help students who struggle with food insecurities.

Scott Hume, SWOSU BCM director, said more than 200 SWOSU students face food insecurities or food scarcities due to lack of personal funding.

“They can pay their tuition,” Hume said. “They can pay their rent, barely. They can pay their utilities, barely, but they are not getting enough meals. They can’t afford to have consistent (healthy) meals.”

Hume first became aware of this from conversations he has had with a few students that come to the BCM during the week. Then, after meeting with Ruth Boyd, SWOSU vice president of student affairs, Hume discovered food insecurity was a growing trend on campus.

“This was alarming, and the BCM has decided to try to assist, not only SWOSU, but also the community of Weatherford,” Hume said. He also mentioned BCM students were volunteering at regional food banks who noticed many students were coming in looking for meals.

“What my counselors tell me is the number one stressor for students is financial difficulty which includes food insecurity,” Boyd said. “We have wonderful resources in the community of Weatherford, but sometimes it takes some convincing to get students to access those services, or it just takes time. Often times, it will take a shy student who is unfamiliar with Weatherford, perhaps. A majority of our students come from very small communities, and Weatherford is a big place to them. It might take a student intern, or a volunteer of some sort, taking them down to the food and resource center to get registered.”

Hume got in touch with The Pack Shack, a ministry based in Arkansas that helps communities with hunger issues by organizing packing parties, and organized a packing party in the BCM on Dec. 11. More than 90 volunteers, with approximately 75 being SWOSU students, participated in the packing party, which happened during finals week.

“I really have a heart for serving people,” Kena McCord, a sophomore and member of Mustang, Chisholm Heights, said. “I think, especially during finals week, it will be a good stress reliever for me because that is what I love to do.”

Of the 20,000 meals that were prepared, 5,000 meals were given to the SWOSU Ministerial Alliance; 5,000 were offered to the Weatherford Food and Resource Center, and 10,000 were given to SWOSU’s student affairs office. The Ministerial Alliance, Weatherford Food and Resource Center and student affairs office also participated in the packing party.

“Southwestern is very fortunate because of our faith-based ministries,” Boyd said, commending the BCM for offering free lunches to students during the semester and for connecting with SWOSU students on a weekly basis. “When (the weekly luncheon) gets Southwestern students here in this building, perhaps their faith tradition is not Baptist, but (the BCM is) welcoming them. We have a large international student population on this campus. I know (the BCM is) welcoming to them as well.”

Hume has been instrumental in making inroads for the BCM with the SWOSU community. He said the BCM building also has a generator for emergency conditions, and the university is aware of the BCM’s provisions to be a warming station in the event of a power outage.

“The BCM already has a good reputation on campus, but we wanted to step it up a little bit and have that reputation that students and faculty and administration can trust us in times of need,” Hume said.

Boyd also offered her appreciation to Oklahoma Baptists, knowing they are responsible for the BCM having a presence on the SWOSU campus.

“First thing I would say to those who support (BCM) is ‘Thank you,’” Boyd said. “They have no idea unless they hear about a specific instance like what we’re doing tonight of how their generosity is multiplied tenfold. How the giving they do, whether through financial resources or manpower volunteerism, the extent to which it’s going to benefit our students. You never know what small action is going to ease that stressor that they are talking to our counselors about and how that can positively affect their academics and their persistence.”