PORTALES, N.M. (KRQE) – Eastern New Mexico University (ENMU) is tackling an issue many struggle with. They’ve decided to open a pantry to help students struggling with food insecurity.

The 2023 winter semester at ENMU is just a few days away, and the campus is welcoming students by tackling a major issue. “A lot of the students that came here are first generation, so a majority are low-income,” said Campus Life Director Reydecel Coss.

“Just due to the rising cost of food, some students just can’t afford it,” said Erick Salomon, a graduate assistant at ENMU.

Salomon hears firsthand the struggles of his peers. “They ask me what’s the best place to go buy food, where can I get food that’s not so expensive? Sometimes, stores have food that’s less expensive, and I just try to help them out the best I can,” said Salomon.

Students and staff saw some students needed help getting their next meal.

“We do have locations in Portales like the food bank and stuff, but we wanted something that was located on campus,” said Coss.

They took this spare closet at the back of the Greyhound Lounge and turned it into a student-ran food pantry at no cost. “It’s kinda closed off, and the students that would run the pantry are the students that work at the Greyhound Lounge, and they would just go and open the door,” said Coss.

Coss is already fielding calls from community members looking to donate. “I was actually on a call with a lady, her father used to teach at Eastern in the College of Education, and she’s like, ‘I just came from the store, and I want to drop off my donations. What time do you guys close today,'” said Coss.

It’s unclear just how many ENMU students are facing food insecurity. The university is sending out a survey to better understand the need. “That survey that we will give out will probably help us out. What is the need? What are you looking for,” explained Coss.

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The school is hoping this pantry will allow students to focus on their education instead of worrying about affording food. ENMU is also accepting monetary donations. For more information on how to donate, Coss is asking people to contact Campus Life.