The initiative helps students meet their basic needs while studying

SALT LAKE CITY — An initiative is helping students focus on graduation by relieving other worries in their lives, like having enough to eat.

At the University of Utah, the “Basic Needs Collective” helps students with services such as food, tuition, and affordable housing.

The program’s associate director, Sarah Elizabeth Garza-Levitt, said the program resonated with her personally.

“Sometimes being in school and dealing with all of this can be really difficult,” Garza-Levitt said. “Especially now in our current financial climate. Students are struggling more than ever to meet their basic needs.”

Currently, she is a second-year PhD student studying university student poverty, but her journey began as a teenage single mother.

Garza-Levitt earned his GED at age 16, then spent more than two decades working on his first undergraduate degree.

“I can totally understand,” she exclaimed, “And we want to nurture and sustain the dreams of students, we want to get them where they want to go.”

Students can stop for a meal or snack, but can also receive help with things like tuition, healthcare, and affordable housing. Student volunteers are always there to help you.

“We want to de-stigmatize asking for help, de-stigmatize basic needs,” explained student volunteer Jose Torres. “A lot of people kind of don’t want to talk about these things.”

The collective is a “judgment-free zone” where the goal is to minimize the stress a student may have while seeking help.

“We always give students the opportunity to express themselves and choose, and help them navigate the complex world of academics, finances, and other life circumstances they might be going through,” Garza-Levitt explained. “We are a resource carrier.”

To learn more about the services offered by the Basic Needs Collective, click here.

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