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 The LoboEats app on Saturday, March 1.

LoboEats app targets food insecurity with free event leftovers

This past February, the University of New Mexico launched LoboEats, a mobile app created to help connect students and faculty on Main Campus with available, free, leftover food from campus events.

The LoboEats app was developed by a team of Honors students led by Sarita Cargas, UNM Honors College Associate Professor to help combat food insecurity at the University. In 2022, the app created by UNM alum Biraj Silwal won the UNM and Central New Mexico Community College Mobile App Contest. 

Rebecca Brown joined LoboEats as the Information Technologies Project Manager in 2023. 

“This application allows the student body to benefit from free food while also allowing them to participate in a sustainable practice that reduces unnecessary waste on campus,” Brown wrote in an email. “The application opens the door to other sustainable efforts on campus and pushes the student body to get involved.”

Cargas initially brought forward the idea of creating an app to help combat food insecurity on campus following the results of the April 2023 state-wide Basic Needs Project survey, which researched different insecurities on campus. 

“We found significant amounts of food insecurity (in the study),” Cargas said. “So, I developed a class as a response to that called the Human Rights of College Students.”

After the contest, the group joined with UNM Information Technologies to make the app available campus-wide. Alongside Brown, Tuan Bui – UNM associate director of core IT services – helped lead the IT team in charge of the app, Cargas said.

UNM IT oversaw developments, functionality and the addition of critical components to the app to “help realize the benefits among the student body,” Brown wrote.

“An example of a critical component would be the map feature,” Brown wrote. “The map is an essential requirement to help direct students on campus to the food posting location.”

Event staff can post about leftover food to the app for students, faculty and staff to come grab. There is, however, a time limit for students to claim the available food. 

“We've made a decision that the food would always be available for as long as it lasts or 20 minutes – whichever one comes first,” Cargas said. “But 20 minutes for food safety reasons and in consideration of staff time.”

The team worked with the head of UNM Food, Amanda Gerard, to address the subjects of staff staying longer, food safety and categories listed on the app – like vegetarian or not vegetarian, Cargas said. 

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The Basic Needs study found that 55% of UNM Main Campus students and 22% of faculty and staff reported they faced food insecurities in the prior 30 days. The app is also available for faculty and staff to utilize, Cargas said.

“It's not just for students, because everybody forgets their lunch once in a while or runs out of time,” Cargas said. “And research also shows that there's faculty and staff food insecurity, so we're not limiting it to anybody – except you have to have a UNM email account.”

Elizabeth Secor is a freelance reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at on Twitter @esecor2003

Elizabeth Secor

Elizabeth Secor is a freelance reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted on Twitter @esecor2003 

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