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 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 alike are fully capable of being successful, said Amanda Nunez, Aggie Cupboard’s new program specialist who started in January. Additionally, the Mobile Food Pantry provides another resource for assistance on campus. With the support of the Roadrunner Food Bank and the Casa de Peregrinos, the Mobile Food Pantry offers perishable food items once a month.
In February 2020, following the rise of the pandemic, there was a rapid increase of Aggie Cupboard clientele with an average of 210 individuals per week utilizing the pantry. Since then, there has been a decrease in clientele. In February 2021 the numbers dropped to 120 individuals, according to Nunez. 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,” Nunez said. “This is a difficult time, and we are here to support those who need help.”
The cupboard is located at 906 Gregg St. and is open for food distribution from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Tuesdays and from 3 to 6 p.m. Thursdays. Aggie Cupboard 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 are allowed to pick up non-perishable items with a valid Aggie ID.
The Mobile Food Pantry distribution location is at the southwest corner of Preciado Park from noon to 2:30 p.m. and is open the fourth Tuesday of every month.
Due to the pandemic, Aggie Cupboard had to make changes and limit the capacity to four people at a time and encourages social distancing at the pantry as well as at the Mobile Food Pantry. Volunteers have made pre-made boxes to help distribute food easier and to limit the number of people touching the food in the boxes. In addition, Aggie Cupboard ensures the sanitation of the facility with the help of NMSU’s Facilities and Services.
“The NMSU sanitation crew has been an incredible support system by spraying our facility three times a week, on top of the personal precautions we take in the office such as requiring face masks and washing hands frequently,” Nunez said.
Aggie Cupboard accepts donations of non-perishable foods as well as toiletries. The most needed item is evaporated milk, according to Nunez. The organization also accepts monetary donations used to purchase items needed. Monetary donations can be made through the NMSU Make A Statement website 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 both NMSU and the University of Texas at El Paso during the month of April.
For more information about Aggie Cupboard, visit https://aggiecupboard.nmsu.edu or call 575-646-7636.