A $20,000 grant from the Educational Credit Management Corporation Foundation will help several New Mexico State University departments support students, faculty and staff needs including Aggie Cupboard, which provides free supplementary food assistance. Program Specialist Amanda Nunez has helped Aggie Cupboard extended its reach on campus. | NMSU photo by Josh Bachman
Not having enough to eat or necessities such as toiletries can make it difficult for students to succeed when pursuing higher education.
A $20,000 grant from the Educational Credit Management Corporation Foundation will help several New Mexico State University (NMSU) departments support students, faculty and staff needs.
Aggie Cupboard, which is an on-campus service department within the Aggie Health and Wellness Center that provides students, faculty and staff free supplementary food assistance, is one of the grant recipients.
“Over the last 18 months during the COVID-19 pandemic, our personal care items have been hit the hardest in trying to keep up with the demand,” said Amanda Blair, Aggie Health and Wellness Center interim executive director. “Currently we do not purchase any personal care items, and these are provided purely off donations. We see an extreme need to expand this area at our pantry as we often run out or have nothing to provide.”
With grant funds, Aggie Cupboard will focus on new initiatives and expanding current services. For the first time, Aggie Cupboard will purchase toiletries items such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, diapers, deodorant and feminine hygiene products. The funds also will be used to purchase industrial shelving for the facility.
An additional way to help students overcome barriers is to aid them where they are, and Aggie Cupboard has extended 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 allow program officials to offer food bags to students in exchange for an Aggie ID.
“These connections are vital to make the Aggie Cupboard efforts successful as they serve as a voice for us,” Nunez said. “Many times students don’t realize the resources that are available on campus, and these programs make sure that students are aware of the assistance that is available to them. It’s also important to have these programs involved as they oftentimes get a more in-depth picture of student struggle in the sense that students will feel more comfortable going to these offices.
“We work together trying to avoid students falling through the cracks and experiencing food insecurity or lack of other resources. In the future, I hope to expand to other programs and possibly create more stations for students to pick up food,” Nunez said.
NMSU began working with ECMC in early 2021, when ECMC Project Success launched. The three-year project aims to retain and graduate students at NMSU. Its nonprofit organization, ECMC Foundation, works to improve postsecondary outcomes for students from underserved backgrounds.
“Project Success provides many tools and support to assist students to meet their academic potential,” said Tony Marin, assistant vice president of student affairs. “This grant will assist Aggies who may be facing food insecurity and/or lack the basic toiletries that I have learned to appreciate more. The financial support dedicated to the Aggie Cupboard from the ECMC Foundation is much appreciated.”
Aggie Cupboard is located at 906 Gregg St. and is open for food distribution from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays and from 3 to 6 p.m. Wednesdays. Aggie Cupboard is open daily if students, faculty and staff cannot make it during distribution times but are still in need of food assistance. Once a week, students, faculty and staff are allowed to pick up non-perishable items with a valid Aggie ID.
Additionally, the Mobile Food Pantry provides another resource for assistance on campus. With the support of the Roadrunner Food Bank and Casa de Peregrinos, the Mobile Food Pantry offers perishable food items once a month. The Mobile Food Pantry distribution location is at the southwest corner of Preciado Park from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. and is open the fourth Tuesday of every month. Individuals need to bring a box, bin or cart to carry items as boxes are not always available.
Aggie Cupboard accepts donations of non-perishable foods and toiletries. The organization also accepts monetary donations. For more information about Aggie Cupboard, click here or call 575-646-7636.
Author: Tiffany Acosta – NMSU