As word spread across the University of Texas at Dallas, students filled the center of campus to see if the rumors were true. Could they really get a free fajita lunch?

When the serving line opened for fajitas, rice, beans and side dishes, students jumped in line. Soon they created two lines that remained at least 20 deep for the next two hours as a steady stream of young people came through. While waiting, they met leaders from the Baptist Student Ministry at the campus and began building relationships with them.

Kasey Olander remembers those conversations well. She first learned about the BSM in 2012 when she came for a free lunch provided by TBM volunteers. She connected with BSM leaders and quickly became involved in the ministry, became part of the leadership the next year and eventually went on mission trip to South Padre Island where she served alongside TBM volunteers.

“BSM was very formative for me, especially with the Spring Break mission trip,” Olander said. “It helped me articulate a faith I had practiced for a while but hadn’t put into practice sharing with others.”

Olander’s experience represents what TBM and BSM leaders are attempting to duplicate this year as they feed 1,000 students during one of the first days of the fall semester. Throughout lunch, students shared their information with the BSM, allowing the ministry to follow up with them and promote future events.

“As we’ve reflected over the years, we’ve come to realize what we do is about relationships,” said Joe Crutchfield, who leads the TBM State Feeding Unit. “It’s not about the food. Food is simply a tool we use to share the gospel.”

UTD is one of fastest growing universities in Texas with more than 28,000 students, including 8,000 international students from around the globe.

“This is a beautiful mission field,” said Mark Warrington, director of the campus BSM. “College students love free food. We’re building relationships and having conversations. We’re grateful for TBM. We couldn’t do this without them.”