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Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the lack of groceries available in stores for the community and an increase in unemployment rates, especially in households that went from one source of income to no income, brought an increased need for Aggie Cupboard emergency food program at New Mexico State University. Aggie Cupboard remains open and continues to provide food for students, faculty and staff.
Aggie Cupboard is an on-campus service department within the Aggie Health and Wellness Center that provides students and staff free supplementary food assistance. Its mission is to reduce hunger in the community so both students and staff are fully capable of being successful, said Amanda Nuñez, Aggie Cupboard’s new program specialist who started in January.
Aggie Cupboard’s Mobile Food Pantry (MFP) provides another resource for assistance on campus. With the support of the Roadrunner Food Bank and the Casa de Peregrinos emergency food program, MFP offers perishable food items once a month.
In February 2020, following the rise of the pandemic, there was a rapid increase in Aggie Cupboard clientele, with an average of 210 individuals per week utilizing the pantry. Since then, there has been a decrease. In February 2021 the numbers dropped to 120 individuals, Nuñez said. While the need has decreased, Aggie Cupboard is still helping more individuals than the semesters prior to the pandemic, when the numbers were 70 to 80 individuals per week.
“If you find yourself having food insecurities or need more information about other resources, do not be embarrassed or afraid to reach out,” Nuñez said. “This is a difficult time, and we are here to support those who need help.”
Aggie Cupboard, 906 Gregg St. on the Las Cruces campus, is open for food distribution 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Tuesdays and 3-6 p.m. Thursdays. It is open daily in case students and staff cannot make it during distribution times but are still in need of food assistance. Once a week, students, faculty and staff may pick up non-perishable items with a valid Aggie ID.
MFP distribution location is at the southwest corner of Preciado Park noon-2:30 p.m. the fourth Tuesday of every month. The park is located on the Las Cruces between Stewart and Gregg streets and between Sweet and Williams avenues.
Aggie Cupboard has limited its capacity to four people at a time because of the pandemic, and encourages social distancing at the pantry and MFP. Volunteers have made boxes to help distribute food more easily and to limit the number of people touching food. In addition, Aggie Cupboard ensures the sanitation of the facility with the help of NMSU’s Facilities and Services.
Aggie Cupboard accepts donations of non-perishable foods as well as toiletries. The most needed item is evaporated milk, Nuñez said. The organization also accepts monetary donations, which can be made at https://mas.nmsu.edu/project/2816.
Additionally, participating Chick-fil-A restaurants in Las Cruces and El Paso will donate 50 percent of the proceeds from chocolate chunk cookie purchases to the student emergency funds at NMSU and UTEP during the month of April.
For more information, call 575-646-7636. Visit https://aggiecupboard.nmsu.edu.