Student Health Services provides healthy food — and it’s free

A bulletin board stands tall for Diabetes Awareness month tab student Health Service.
Photo submitted by Christina Compere

Healthy eating is readily available for students, faculty and staff at Florida A&M University — as well as for local residents.

For years the Student Health Services at FAMU has given fresh fruits and vegetables to the community every Thursday. 

Students and local residents sign a brief form from Second Harvest and will be able to receive a recyclable bag to fill as many items as they need to promote health and wellness in their home.

Asher Hernandez, a freshman from Lakeland, said that he came to the clinic for a check-up and was surprised at the food assembly line set up.

“I got oranges, broccoli and I don’t eat pork but they had frozen meats available too,” Hernandez said. “You can’t complain on the selection cause it’s for free and it’s not bad stuff.”

Although this is a weekly event, this month means so much more to the staff at Student Health Services. A table and bulletin board for diabetes awareness greeted you while on line for the free food items.

According to the university website, November is diabetes and healthy eating awareness month. The food bank filled with fresh items is a bonus for students, faculty and local residents to take advantage of year-round.

“It’s all on our website and we’ve been doing it successfully for eight years.” said Elaine Jennings, office manager at FAMU Student Health Services.

Television ads about the FAMU Food Bank in the Orange Room
Photo submitted by Christina Compere

In the Orange room on campus, the TV screen ads mention that the FAMU food pantry donates at least 250 pounds of food every month. 

Most students hear about the free food through a friend or faculty but the Student Health Services staff encourages students to get more active on their website to learn about the resources they offer to promote a healthier lifestyle. 

Barbara Rhodes, a Tallahassee resident, has been battling diabetes for almost a decade. She decided to change her eating habits five years ago when her doctor told her that she was too close to having a heart attack due to cholesterol issues. 

“Once I retired almost four years ago I had more time to focus on my health by walking more often and eating out less,” said Rhodes. “About four months ago my diabetes specialist said that my pancreas is working again so the diabetes is reversing since I changed my habits.”

Rhodes gives praise to God and her husband for supporting her lifestyle change. She expressed the importance of drinking water and limiting the unhealthy food choices down to once a year. Rhodes went from 284 pounds to 190 pounds in five years. They walk two to four miles every day. 

“First, you have to start accepting that you have diabetes and start eating the right way,” said Rhodes “Then you have to see the doctor to stay on top of the changes in having a healthier lifestyle.” 

For more on healthy food and diabetes awareness initiatives at FAMU through the Student Health Services visit