It’s estimated that more than 360,000 people in New Mexico are at risk to go hungry. It’s a staggering statistic the state’s largest university is working hard to change with the monthly Lobo Food Pantry.
The University of New Mexico started the program more than two years ago, initially, as a way to help students dealing with food insecurity.
“We always sort of joke about the myth of the ‘starving student,’ but truly there are students on our campus who are living week to week,” said Lisa Lindquist, program manager for the food pantry. “And at the end of the day, food is a huge part of student success and academic success.”
But soon after starting the program, organizers realized the need went well beyond the campus community.
“We’ve been lucky because it’s not only helped our students but it’s helped other community members as well. And to have that benefit out there for people is really an extraordinary resource.”
Lindquist, who is also the director of the LoboRESPECT Advocacy Center, said UNM partners with Roadrunner Food Bank of New Mexico (RRFB) to offer the program. Every month during the spring and fall semesters, RRFB brings in 5,000 pounds of food to be given away to students, staff, faculty, and community members. They offer everything from fresh fruit and vegetables, to cereal and bread items.
Lindquist said they typically provide groceries to more than 100 different households.
“To really be able to know that you’ve helped somebody in need, that’s the best thing you can do,” said Lindquist.
The food pantry is also made possible through volunteers who donate their time to set up and pass out food during the monthly events. Lindquist said she generally sees the same people volunteering every month, a testament to how rewarding the program can be.
“It helps the community on a larger scale, but to be able to volunteer in a way that positively impact students on this campus that I’m here to help anyway means a lot to me,” said Ethan Rule, a UNM staff member and regular food pantry volunteer.
The next Lobo Food Pantry will take place on Wednesday, Nov. 25 from 10 a.m. to noon in the southeast corner of UNM’s South Parking Lot. Organizers said they usually hold the pantry on Fridays, but decided to schedule November's event earlier in the week to provide people food for the Thanksgiving holiday.
For more information on the Lobo Food Pantry or how to volunteer, click .