An important resource in the fight against food insecurity at New Mexico State University got a much-needed surge of support as a result of the university’s recent GivingTuesday event and its new crowdfunding platform.
Aggie Cupboard, a food pantry that provides bags of nutritious, non-perishable food items to students and employees at NMSU and Dona Ana Community College, received more than $9,000 as a result of the global day of giving, which NMSU took part in for the second time on Nov. 29, along with matching pledges from NMSU administrators.
The funding will help Aggie Cupboard continue to address a growing problem. A comprehensive national study on hunger and university students conducted this year found that food insecurity is a much more common issue for college students than previously understood. For a majority of students, the study found that struggling to make ends meet while working through college and receiving financial aid is not at all unusual.
“Our university community continues to show its generosity and willingness to tackle this problem,” said Lori Martinez, an NMSU social worker and founder of Aggie Cupboard. “We have the resources in our community to address food insecurity, and having this support from so many GivingTuesday donors helps us continue to turn a spotlight on this ongoing need.”
Martinez said each dollar the pantry receives can be stretched into one full meal for a student or employee in need. The pantry’s impact has grown significantly since it was founded in 2012. That first academic year, Aggie Cupboard distributed 543 bags of food; during the 2015-16 school year, the volunteer staff gave out 966 bags, helping nearly 250 people make ends meet during that time.
Martinez accepted the funds during the NMSU Foundation’s annual holiday celebration last week. Staff members in the alumni, development and marketing and communications departments also continued a tradition started after last year’s GivingTuesday success by filling a 6-foot banquet table to overflowing with food items for the pantry.
The check for $9,093 included a GivingTuesday matching challenge of $2,000 offered up by NMSU Provost Dan Howard and his wife, Jenifer Lichtenfels, and another $2,000 matching challenge from NMSU Chancellor Garrey Carruthers and his wife, Kathy.
Another giving challenge extended by Andrea Tawney, president of the NMSU Foundation, and other leaders in the fundraising office was a personal pledge to encourage even more giving from their staff.
“Our team truly believes in our mission of supporting the success of our students and programs throughout the NMSU system,” said Tawney. She and associate vice presidents Leslie Cervantes and Terra Winter, KRWG Director Glen Cerny and NMSU Foundation Chief Operating Officer Tina Byford promised to pony up the matching money if – and only if – every staff member made a gift during GivingTuesday. “They rose to the occasion last year, so we knew what we were getting ourselves into. We’re proud of the work they did to make GivingTuesday a success, and proud of the work they do every day to carry out our mission to serve our students.”
In total, GivingTuesday raised more than $2 million for the university system from 1,425 donors – including 598 NMSU system faculty and staff donors. Gifts to Aggie Cupboard came in through online and in-person gifts, as well as a new crowdfunding platform at NMSU called Make A STATEment, which allows NMSU groups to appeal to potential donors with video messages about their cause.
Aggie Cupboard needs donations of food, funds and volunteer time all year. Non-perishable food items can be dropped off Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon at Regents Row, Room B114, located at 3055 Williams Ave., near Zuhl Library in the center of campus. Tax-deductible monetary gifts can be made any time at giving.nmsu.edu – just specify Aggie Cupboard as the fund for the gift.
Aggie Cupboard will be closed during NMSU’s winter break, Dec. 23 through Jan. 2, and will reopen on Jan. 4.
Food is distributed from 3 to 6 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays in Regents Row, Room B114, and anyone with a current NMSU identification card may pick up items. During the winter break, Aggie Cupboard will distribute food on Wednesdays only. Regular Wednesday and Thursdayhours will resume when the semester starts.
Author: Amanda Bradford