Student veterans have the opportunity to receive five free meals a week with the Meals for Vets program.
Nonprofit organization Honor Veterans Now is working with Texas A&M’s Veteran Resource and Support Center and Chartwells to provide meals to students who have served in the military. Beginning this semester, veterans are eligible to apply with the following criteria: a minimum of 180 days of military service, submission of a DD-214 for proof of service and proof of income to make sure a maximum income threshold is not exceeded.
The Meals for Vets program is focused on individuals who are under the age of 60 because the Older Americans Act of 1965 does not provide meals to this younger age group. Founder of Meals for Vets Tom Wollny said he saw how young veterans were not being fed in certain areas in Texas and wanted to do something about it.
“Initially anyone that they turned away, we would be happy to support, and that expanded in a number of areas,” Wollny said.
Meals for Vets serves veterans across Texas, and organizers saw that universities could be a great place to offer their services. The program expanded to A&M and eight other universities in Texas this past January.
“We confirmed that there was indeed a meal problem at the universities, and we launched a meals program,” Wollny said. “We are very pleased to be of service to the student veterans that are there.”
Meals for Vets is aware that many colleges provide students a food pantry with simple items like bottled water and granola, but development director Melanie Yonke said that the program felt like that wasn’t enough for some student veterans.
“We wanted to do better than that for our veterans,” Yonke said. “We felt like the men and women who have served our country and are now going to school deserved to have a meal on campus in the cafeteria just like any other student.”
With just a swipe of their IDs, student veterans can eat at the Sbisa, Commons and Duncan dining halls on campus. The Meals for Vets program has a contract with Chartwells Dining Services, and the program reimburses the university for each meal a student gets.
“We have already launched the program, and we’re in the process of getting veterans qualified and getting them enrolled with the meal plan,” program coordinator for the Veteran Resource and Support Center Monteigne Long said.
Meals for Vets currently has ten students enrolled in the program at A&M. Long said that having this program can help those students find success throughout their time in school.
“If they have healthy, nutritious meals during the week, then we know that that’s one less thing they have to worry about so they can focus on their academics,” Long said. “They can focus on work and they can focus on graduating.''
Student veterans can apply for Meals for Vets at the Veteran Resource and Support Center on campus or visit the program’s website at mealsforvets.org for more information.