By Cassidie Stevens
For The Diamondback

Zero Hunger UMD, a student organization at the University of Maryland that works to ensure food security both in and around the university community, held a virtual event Thursday to share tips on how to maintain a healthy diet on a budget.

Leading the meeting, Ayanna Chambers, a sophomore public health science major, discussed the organization’s mission to increase awareness among students at this university about food insecurity.

Chambers discussed resources such as the Campus Pantry. The organization works closely with the Campus Pantry, she said, and the pantry has seen a large increase in visitors since the start of the pandemic.

“Having a campus pantry is a great resource for those individuals who may need it,” Chambers said. “Even if you need to go to a pantry, you should still have access to fresh produce, which is a great thing that our campus pantry has available.”

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Precious Nwokeleme, a registered weight management dietitian and graduate of this university, gave a presentation about the challenges of food insecurity during the meeting.

“You see people who constantly went between paying their rent and buying food,” Nwokeleme said. “There is an issue that needs to be solved, especially with students.”

Before discussing how to make healthy and feasible choices, Nwokeleme spoke on why it is important to stay healthy in the first place, explaining how an improved diet can lead to a better mood, weight management and decreased risk of disease.

Nwokeleme shared tips for staying healthy on a budget that included meal planning and experimenting with foods.

“Our tongues get tired of food before our brains do,” Nwokeleme said.

In order to plan meals effectively, Nwokeleme explained the important parts of meal prepping, which includes planning out when you can go to the grocery store, being aware of what you already have in the house and understanding how long food lasts.

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Nwokeleme also shared recipes for various dishes that are both nutritious and cost conscious, which included seasoned chicken and potatoes, and roasted shrimp and broccoli.

When the virtual meeting was open to questions, Zero Hunger UMD’s co-coordinator Buckley Sake, a senior agricultural and resource economics major, had dietary restrictions on his mind.

Sake said some students may have limitations on foods they can buy due to cultural reasons or dietary preferences and restrictions.

“Is there a significant [cost savings] when we put those variables into consideration?” Sake asked.

Nwokeleme replied by saying that it can depend on the store, but overall, saving money on food can be doable for everyone.

As the event ended, attendees were reminded of an ongoing fundraiser at the Campus Pantry, which is accepting donations until March 12.