ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A new report reveals thousands of University of New Mexico students worry about where their next meal is coming from. Food insecurity is now also considered one of the main reasons students drop out.
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A new study reveals nearly 7,000 UNM students are food insecure. “Which basically means they don’t have a reliable source of food, that they can access, that they can afford,” said Dr. Heather Mechier with UNM.
Dr. Heather Mechier led the Basic Needs Study that showed students who are food insecure tend to struggle academically and are much more likely to call it quits on their academic career. “Students who are food insecure, all other factors being equal, are about twice as likely to drop out than students who have reliable access to nutritious food. I think that has a lot of implications for any higher education institution,” Dr. Mechier said.
When the study’s results came out, Mechler says the university put a big focus on fundraising for the Lobo Food Pantry. Olivia Torres Jojola runs the Food Pantry. “It has significantly increased. It’s wonderful to see such an outpour from the community,” Torres Jojola said. “The need doesn’t dwindle.”
She hopes they can keep this momentum going, allowing the food pantry to serve more students who can worry less about food and make the most of their time at UNM. “The results are really getting traction and really for the first time, I think the community is seeing, ‘oh students actually do need help,'” Torres Jojola said.
“It’s really tragic because it’s money, in the end. It’s not their capability,” Dr. Mechler said. “It’s not their lack of dream or motivation, it’s simply money.”
The Lobo Food Pantry is always accepting donations. For more information on how to donate, visit loborespect.unm.edu.