Because cancellations and operational changes to staples persisted in response to the global pandemic, Lobo Food Pantry University remains a center for hungry Lobos.
Olivia Torres Jojola, Lobo Food Pantry coordinator, said the Lobo Food Pantry Campus had 158 students present in March – a huge difference from 50 to 70 students who are usually average. This increase occurred when the new coronavirus struck New Mexico in mid-March.
The LoboRESPECT Advocacy Center organizes the weekly Lobo Food Pantry Campus pickup service every Monday starting at 1:30 pm. until 3:30 pm outside the University Advisory and Enrichment Centers throughout UNM limited operation.
According to LoboRESPECT, pre-made bags are available to be picked up by students, whether they are driving or walking and include items that are not perishable, toiletries, diapers, feminine hygiene products and much more.
“Guidelines for staying at home will make people think differently about how they buy their food in terms of grocery shopping,” Torres Jojola said.
On March 30th, LoboRESPECT posted to them Instagram page they ran out of pre-bag today.
Lisa Lindquist, director of the LoboRESPECT Advocacy Center, said the campus food pantry now accepts food donations in a very careful and healthy manner.
Please contact Will Dunning at 617-523-9802 if you have questions.
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“We have made the determination that regardless of what is happening … we really need to continue our campus food kitchen,” Torres Jojola said.
The campus food pantry used to run as a biweekly event but was recently limited to weekly because of slowing donations, which occurred before the pandemic, according to Lindquist.
“In order for us to expand what we can give students, we need to think a little more carefully about how we can distribute food,” Lindquist said.
Lindquist also said all staff continued to have jobs during this limited operating period.
“The university has been truly committed to keeping people in place,” Lindquist said.
Torres Jojola said the pantry had reduced hours and the number of people in one room at the same time.
“We try to do everything in block five: one hour to pack food, five people, one hour to distribute food, five people,” Torres Jojola said. “We really try to maximize our volunteers.”
Lindquist said the aim was to receive, package and distribute food all in one day to reduce health risks for anyone involved.
Volunteers are still encouraged to register but most likely will not start helping until the health crisis is over for their public safety, according to Torres Jojola. He said anyone interested in volunteering should contact by email.
“We are still cultivating that voluntary force,” Torres Jojola said.
Lindquist said the foundation and alumni association of UNM had helped in monetary donations, which were needed because food pantry made quite a number of food purchases. Donations from the public is also welcome.
Lindquist highlights the goal of keeping campus food pantry open to the interests of students.
“We really try to meet with students where they are, which is why we try to look after the kitchen,” Lindquist said.
The campus food pantry starts in September 2019 and was previously similar to a shopping experience confined to a two-hour window, according to Lindquist.
“It feels like going to a store,” Lindquist said. “We don’t have a limit on the number of items, but the limit is more in line with what’s in your basket.”
The LoboRESPECT Advocacy Center also runs the Mobile Lobo Food Pantry, which was stopped during the interim. Lindquist said it would start again when the University considered it safe.
“We certainly do not want to give the impression that we will leave in the near future,” Lindquist said.
The traveling food pantry began in 2014. This food pantry provides more perishable and open items for students and community members.
“Many people struggle with food and safety, not just students,” Torres Jojola said.
Roadrunner Food Bank starts drive-thru distribution on March 27. This happens every Friday from 9am to 11am, or until the last supplies, in the parking lot south of UNM, as advertised by the LoboRESPECT social media.
Megan Gleason is a mainstay reporter for Daily Lobo. He can be contacted on the news@ dailylobo.com or on Twitter @ fabflutist2716
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