Facing a lack of basic needs affects university students year-round, however during the summer when temperatures are higher, campuses aren’t fully open and the availability of resources are lower for many.
67% of college students surveyed across New Mexico campuses have experienced some form of insecurity, according to the 2023 Basic Needs Project. The survey completed by the UNM Basic Needs Project is a group that UNM’s Basic Needs Specialist, Amanda Martinez, put together to gain insight on data about student needs.
The Lobo Food Pantry is a resource available to students that operates four days a week and allows any UNM student with a student ID to come and pick up a basket of donated food.
“The Lobo Food Pantry is a 100% free pantry located on the first floor of the Student Union Building in Room 1093. The only requirement to shop in our pantry is that you must be a currently enrolled UNM student. This includes any currently enrolled UNM students from branch campuses,” Martinez wrote.
The Lobo Food Pantry relies on donations from the public, which means that the stock can be limited, Martinez said. The pantry is always accepting donations, typically non-perishables like canned goods or necessary hygiene products.
Mason Rino, a student employee of the Lobo Food Pantry, says that the pantry offers more than just food.
“The food pantry extends beyond just food. We offer clothing, different resources, hygiene products and personal products,” Rino said. “A food pantry isn't just (for) going to get food because of food insecurity… It’s a great campus resource.”
The pantry has been running since 2014, Martinez said, but the structure changed during the pandemic and has now expanded hours and resources.
“At our peak in the fall 2023 semester, the pantry was averaging 65-70 students per day. This allowed the pantry to expand hours and provide the opportunity for more students to access the pantry,” Martinez wrote.
The pantry can also help students apply for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, colloquially known as food stamps. Students can get help filling out applications or finding out if they qualify for SNAP, Martinez said. The Roadrunner Food Bank is a 24-hour line that can also help connect students with these resources.
“If someone's available, they can help you through the application, and if not, they can help you set up an appointment to have someone help you. I can help a student go through and check, ‘Do you even meet the requirements,’ or ‘Here's how you upload your documentation successfully and then get it submitted,’” Martinez said.
The Lobo Food Pantry staff has been cultivating an inviting atmosphere for everyone. As a staff, Martinez and Rino said they always accept donations and encourage anyone who needs assistance to visit.
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“Our number one mission for the summer has been making people feel comfortable and welcome in the food pantry. (There’s) no shame in utilizing a resource that is free for everybody,” Rino said.
The Lobo Food Pantry’s summer hours are Monday - Thursday, 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.
Detroit Kallunki is a senior reporter with the Daily Lobo. They can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @DailyLobo.
Detroit Kallunki is a senior reporter with the Daily Lobo.