As part of a citywide project, St. Edward’s University Civics Lab students are working to make information accessible regarding the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and where grocery stores are located in the city.

The students are working to create a city resource guide that would locate healthy food stores in Austin. A grocery store with healthy options means it includes fresh produce, meat and dairy, Civics Lab student Wilson Ramierz said.

The proposed resource would be available online and would direct Austinites to grocery stores that fall under the definition of including healthy options, according to Civic Labs student Jay Motheral.

Additionally, information about SNAP, a federal program that provides assistance to low-income families to purchase food or other similar services, would likely be included.

Food accessibility in Austin remains an issue, especially in low-income communities where residents may depend on SNAP benefits, according to Ramierz and Motheral.

“I-35 divides East and West Austin, and divides it in more than one way,” Civics Lab student Jay Motheral said. “You live, on average, less years on the east side of Austin than you do on the west side, and food ties into that.”

Last year, the students contributed to the drafting of a resolution sponsored by District 2 Council Member Vanessa Fuentes that asked Capital Metro to promote information and access to healthy food options. The resolution was unanimously approved by City Council on April 21, 2022.

“We want to build on what we did last year,” Motheral said.

The students are working to partner with City Council members to implement the guide for Austinites within the next year.

“A lot of what you're taught is theoretical in school,” Motheral said. “We want to put these theories to practice and try to actually get policies done that will help people. That's our only goal is to help people.”