Survey: 60% of university students deal with food insecurity in NM

[anvplayer video=”5175910″ station=”998122″]

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – A new survey reveals that 60% of undergraduate and graduate students attending public universities in New Mexico are food insecure.

Now, new money from the state Department of Higher Education is going to make helping them a little easier.

Like clock work, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. every Monday through Thursday, the Lobo Food Pantry is up and running, giving college students food that might otherwise not have any.

“I have a lot of passion for this work just because I personally experienced it as a student in K-12, and I had amazing people that helped me access these resources,” said Amanda Martinez, a basic needs specialist.  

This work holds extra meaning for Martinez who day in, and day out sees just how many students are food insecure.

“We have students that have mentioned that it is impossible to focus in your class if your stomach is growling. You can’t focus, you’re getting delirious, you’re worried about the people next to you if they can hear your stomach growling,” said Martinez.  

The pantry runs on donations, but the students are constantly coming in. 

“We just had the basic needs survey go out statewide, and that brought in some really great numbers that show this is a real issue that deserves attention,” Martinez said. 

Martinez says having a full stomach directly affects student success. 

“We don’t want students feeling like they couldn’t show their full potential because they were hungry, or they couldn’t find resources that everyone should have and deserves to have,” said Martinez.  

With the stats on hand, the New Mexico Department of Higher Education is jumping in to help. The department is giving colleges in New Mexico $1 million to support on-campus food and nutrition projects.

“That funding will go towards these resources. I mean we have both food and personal hygiene in here, and they go just as fast equally go as quick. Having that funding will keep things on the shelf consistently,” said Martinez.  

The funding will be spread out to all New Mexico universities such as Eastern, New Mexico Highlands University, NMSU and various community colleges as well. 

The 2023 College Basic Needs Study – a partnership between Gov. Lujan Grisham’s Food Initiative, NMHED, and researchers from UNM’s Basic Needs Project – surveyed over 15,000 students, faculty, and staff across 27 public colleges and universities. New Mexico is one of the first states to lead a statewide college basic needs study focused on all populations on college campuses.  

Responses to the survey revealed that 60% of undergraduate and graduate students attending public colleges and universities in New Mexico self-identify as food insecure, and 63% of students reported being housing insecure. Nearly 20% of students reported being homeless in the last 12 months. Basic needs insecurity was higher among students attending community colleges than those attending four-year universities. Students of color were also more likely to experience basic needs insecurity, as were students in the LGBTQ+ community.