The need was clear as more than 100 students lined up to participate in the University of New Mexico’s first mobile food pantry in a parking lot near University Stadium Thursday despite blustery weather conditions. The Lobo Food Pantry, a new partnership created by the UNM Dean of Students office and Student Affairs along with Roadrunner Food Bank, was established to serve students in need for one of life’s basic necessities – food.
The Lobo Food Pantry was setup with a simple telephone call from Student Affairs Specialist Lisa Lindquist to Roadrunner Food Bank.
“Lisa contacted us about setting up a mobile food pantry much like an open-air market,” said Joe Gatti, community programs manager, Roadrunner Food Bank. “I asked her how many people UNM would like to serve and we took it from there.”
The goal was to help 100 families with 50 pounds of food, which is the equivalent of 5,000 pounds of food. All sort of food was available including frozen goods such as turkey and blueberries, fresh goods including packaged salad, potatoes and avocados as well as a variety of dry goods.
“There are a lot of hungry people around as you can see from the response,” Gatti said. “It’s pretty clear from today's event. The stats tell us that 40,000 people in New Mexico are looking for food each week and forty percent are kids.”
Crystal Wellborn, a junior majoring in Fine Arts, compared the mobile food pantry to financial aid. Wellborn and her husband were both recently laid off.
“It’s like financial aid,” she said. “My husband and I are just students with no state assistance. The food helps us with our family and in a way, it supplements our income since we don’t have to buy food. We’re so grateful to everyone involved in the program. For us, it came at a great time.”
“This has been in the planning stages for several years and we are pleased to get this started,” said Kim Kloeppel, Student Affairs Fiscal and Planning officer. “There are no requirements for students to participate in this program. We hope that this continues to be a widely used program.”
The Lobo Food Pantry will make a stop on campus in the parking lot located at the northeast corner of UNM Football Stadium on the third Thursday of every month. Any UNM student can utilize the mobile food pantry. Students simply need to bring their student ID and fill out a form and bring their own bag or box to carry their food.
The Lobo Food Pantry will continue for the next five months on the third Thursday including March 20, April 17, May 15, June 19 and July 17.