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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Food bank will help students make ends meat

news@dailylobo.com
@ArdeeTheJourno

Starting Thursday, some UNM students may be able to ditch the instant ramen diet at least once a month.

The University has cooperated with the Roadrunner Food Bank to launch the Lobo Food Pantry, a mobile food warehouse that would provide free healthy food to UNM students monthly. The program will kick off Thursday afternoon in the northeast parking lot of the UNM Football Stadium.

Lisa Lindquist, student affairs specialist at the Dean of Students Office, said her office and Student Affairs worked with the food bank to launch the program. Lindquist said that the University initially planned to establish a permanent student food pantry on campus.

“The Roadrunner Food Bank is a primary advocate to getting food out to the community,” she said. “Originally, when we started looking into doing this for the community, we wanted to have a free-standing food bank on campus. But we realized quickly that we don’t have the space for anything like that. And there are so many food safety requirements for us to do that.”

The office plans to hold the event every third Thursday of the month, Lindquist said.

Students will have to provide their student banner ID and fill out a short questionnaire to access a ration of food, Lindquist said. She said the pantry will give away 150 rations in a first-come, first-served basis at the kick-off event.

Lindquist said the event will be of critical help to students, especially with the current state of the economy and of the University’s financial aid funds.

“There’s that myth of the starving student that everyone knows about, but the reality is a lot of our students don’t have enough food,” she said. “That’s the case for a majority of our students particularly because financial aid is being cut back and scholarships aren’t as prevalent as they used to be… People are really having to tighten their belts.”

Kim Kloeppel, fiscal and planning officer at Student Affairs, said the University started planning the program more than two years ago in the model of similar programs in other universities. She said the University finally followed through with its plans this year after a lot of research.

Kloeppel said the program will give students more access to healthy food. She said rations would include various meats, bread and fresh fruit.

“I think a lot of students are on such a tight budget that they don’t always eat well,” she said. “This is an opportunity to provide food for students who might need that extra help with their nutrition and their diet.”

The program would also help improve students’ academic success, Kloeppel said.

“A lot of times, a lot of students don’t eat, or they eat ramen noodles or things like that, that aren’t very healthy,” she said. “Their energy level is low. So, I think that if they eat better and healthier, then it gives them the energy to study more and be more successful in their academic areas.”

Kloeppel said Students Affairs would provide $500 from its budget every month to fund the program. She said the department is willing to increase the number of rations in the future if student demand amounts more than expected.

At the moment, UNM plans to run the program for six months, Kloeppel said. But she said the University would strive to extend the program for as long as possible.

“We’d like to continue with it,” she said. “I hope students appreciate it and utilize it and get their food.”

Lobo Food Pantry kick-off event
Thursday, 2 p.m.
Northeast parking lot of the UNM Football Stadium

Students need to provide their banner ID number to access food rations.