Monarchs on the Hilltop expand food co-op for SEU community


Kailyn Hayes

Monarchs on the Hilltop created the co-op with students in mind, especially those who face food insecurity. The club is open to suggestions to making their co-op better for students.

Making the walk from Johnson Hall to the student lounge in John Brooks William North (JBWN), Gabriela Camacho searched through the Monarchs on the Hilltop food cooperative for breakfast and found a pack of oatmeal. 

For Camacho and other students, this resource diminishes the stress of calculating their meal plan or having to find a way to get groceries.

Partnering with the Office of Community Engagement, Monarchs on the Hilltop will move their food cooperative, which was originally housed in the student lounge of JBWN to Premont Hall in room 300 in order to have more space to store supplies. 

Monarchs on the Hilltop is an organization on campus that is dedicated to fostering a safe and inclusive community for undocumented students, as well as students from mixed-status families. 

With this initiative, the organization aims to serve the St. Edward’s community as a whole. The co-op is not solely for undocumented students, but all students on campus. With no sign up requirement and no check-in list, they offer full anonymity for those who may be uncomfortable with sharing that information. 

Being around for less than five years, the co-op is fairly new. When asked about the purpose of the co-op, Vice President of Monarchs on the Hilltop Abril Gurrola mentioned food insecurity among students. 

“The main goal of the co-op is to tackle food insecurity on campus. That [food insecurity] was a big issue. Maybe students don’t have time to make dinner, pack lunch or purchase the food here on campus, which is expensive,” Gurrola said.

As Gurrola pointed out, food insecurity is a major issue in Texas communities, especially in a city like Austin where the cost of living is expensive. Last year, one in seven Texans experienced food insecurity. Texas is one of 15 states with a higher rate of food insecurity than the national average, according to Feeding Texas, a network of food banks which aims to end hunger in Texas.

Monarchs on the Hilltop are making the move in order to better serve the student body as a whole. This move will allow for more space to store supplies.

“We wanted somewhere to store the food. We had to keep things with us, then go and replenish it every once in a while because we couldn’t leave a lot of things in the lounge. Now we have a space where we have everything there and people can take what they need,” Gurrola said.

In addition to food, the co-op offers hygiene products and school supplies. Students can get involved with this initiative by donating canned food items and various toiletries to Monarchs. 

Camacho has used the co-op before and believes that it is one of the best things to happen at the university.

“The co-op has been a place where I’ve been able to find general resources like food and toiletries. It allows me to worry less about running low on meal plan or going to H-E-B,” she said.

While Camacho praised the co-op as being a useful resource on campus for students, she believes there is room for improvement. 

“Even though [the supply is] random because it’s donation based, it’d be helpful if they had a list that would tell me what they’d have for the week or every other two weeks,” Camacho said.

The new co-op will officially be open on Mar. 11. Monarchs on the Hilltop will host a grand opening ceremony at the new location in Premont Hall at 1 p.m.