The University of New Mexico’s main campus opened an on-site food pantry Wednesday, Sept. 4 at the University Advisement and Enrichment Center (UAEC).
The food pantry, which is now a permanent facility, will provide consistent healthy foods to students who would not otherwise be able to afford it. Students who would like to visit and utilize the pantry are required to bring a valid UNM identification and a bag.
In addition to offering healthy shelf-stable foods, the pantry will have other essential living staples such as detergent, toiletries and personal care products. Though the original food pantry was a collaborative project between the Dean of Students Office, Division of Student Affairs and the Roadrunner Food Bank, the decision to expand this operation was driven by the LoboRESPECT Advocacy Center.
With students juggling their studies and work, this pantry will work to assist UNM students who face food insecurity. The pantry was originally established in 2014 and previously held events on South Campus. With a consistent schedule and a close location, more students will be able to utilize this service.
The pantry is located downstairs and will be open on Mondays from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. and Thursdays from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m during the fall 2019 semester. The hours for each semester are subject to change, depending on the personnel available to run it. For those who are unable to visit the pantry located in B70 during scheduled hours, they can call 505-277-2911.
Food insecurity is a challenge that 362,000 people in New Mexico faced in 2017 alone, according to the USDA. Additionally, from 2016 to 2018, 16.8% of New Mexican’s grappled with food insecurity according to USDA Economic Research Service. This is an above the average statistic for the U.S., which estimates that 11.1% of americans face food insecurity.
Closely connected to income levels of those who face food insecurity, are those particularly close to for those whose incomes falling below the poverty level. A study from 2016 by New Mexico Voices, which examined the connection between poverty level and food insecurity, revealed that 21% of New Mexicans live below the poverty line, and that those who are below the poverty line are much more likely to face food insecurity and have less access to healthy foods.
“Eating healthy is expensive. A recent study showed that the cost of a healthy diet is $1.50 more per person per day than the cost of an unhealthy diet,” according to New Mexico Voices.
To help make eating healthy a realistic option,the food pantry is now accepting food and toiletries by donation.
Megan Holmen is the news editor at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at email@example.com or on Twitter at @megan_holmen.