LAS CRUCES – Not enough to eat or having necessities like toiletries can make it difficult for students to get a college education. A US $ 20,000 grant from the Educational Credit Management Corporation Foundation will help several departments at New Mexico State University meet the needs of students, faculty, and staff.
Aggie Cupboard, a service department on the Aggie Health and Wellness Center campus that provides free nutritional supplements to students, faculty, and staff, is one of the grant recipients.
“In the last 18 months during the COVID-19 pandemic, our personal care products have been hit hardest to keep up with demand,” said Amanda Blair, interim executive director of Aggie Health and Wellness Center. “We are currently not buying personal care items and these are only provided from donations. We see an extreme need to expand this area in our pantry as we often go out or have nothing to offer. “
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With grant funds, Aggie Cupboard will focus on new initiatives and expanding existing services. For the first time, Aggie Cupboard will purchase toiletries such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, diapers, deodorants and feminine hygiene products. The funds will also be used to purchase industrial shelving for the facility.
Another way to help students overcome barriers is to help them get where they are, and Aggie Cupboard has expanded its reach on campus. Program Specialist Amanda Nunez has established campus partnerships with organizations such as the American Indian Programs, Black Programs, Chicano Programs, and the Burrell College of Osteopathic Medicine. The partnerships enable program managers to offer students grocery bags in exchange for an Aggie ID.
“These connections are critical to making Aggie Cupboard’s endeavors successful as they serve as our voice,” said Nunez. “Many students do not know what resources are available on campus, and these programs ensure that students are aware of the support that is available to them. It is also important to include these programs as they often get a deeper picture of student struggles in the sense that students are more comfortable going to these offices.
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“We work together to prevent students from falling through the cracks and experiencing food insecurity or a lack of other resources. In the future, I hope to expand to other programs and possibly create more stations where students can pick up food, ”said Nunez.
The NMSU began working with ECMC in early 2021 when the ECMC Project Success was launched. The three-year project aims to retain and graduate students at the NMSU. The nonprofit ECMC Foundation works to improve post-secondary outcomes for students from underserved backgrounds.
“Project Success offers many tools and supports to help students achieve their academic potential,” said Tony Marin, vice president, student affairs. “This grant will help aggies who may face food insecurity and / or who lack the basic toiletries that I have come to appreciate more. The financial support of the Aggie Cupboard by the ECMC Foundation is very much appreciated. “
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Aggie Cupboard is located at Gregg St. 906 and is open for serving food on Tuesdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Wednesdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Aggie Cupboard is open daily when students, faculty and staff cannot be there during distribution times but still need food aid. Once a week, students, lecturers and employees are allowed to pick up non-perishable items with a valid Aggie ID.
In addition, the Mobile Food Pantry offers another resource for support on campus. With the support of the Roadrunner Food Bank and Casa de Peregrinos, the Mobile Food Pantry offers perishable food once a month. The sales location of the Mobile Food Pantry is located in the southwest corner of Preciado Park from 12.30 p.m. to 2.30 p.m. and is open every fourth Tuesday of the month. Individuals must bring a box, trash can, or cart to carry items as boxes are not always available.
Aggie Cupboard accepts donations of long-life food and toiletries. The association also accepts monetary donations. For more information on Aggie Cupboard, visit https://aggiecupboard.nmsu.edu or call 575-646-7636.
Tiffany Acosta is a writer on Marketing and Communications for New Mexico State University and can be reached at 575-646-3929 or by email at [email protected]