Founded in 2014, the mission of the UTEP Food Pantry is simple: to alleviate food insecurity on campus and reduce barriers to professional and academic success. The initiative offers nonperishable food and toiletry items to UTEP community members, offering a solution to an issue silently plaguing the university. Through our program, the food pantry breaks identified barriers to food, including transportation, lower wages, stigma and more. Success of this program is dependent upon gifts – in-kind food donation drives, corporate foundation donations and the generous support of individual financial contributions.
In 2021, the Food Pantry served 974 individuals – undergraduate and graduate students from all across campus. This year, approximately 500 students a month are accessing services – a jump from 200-300 a month seen in previous years. This increase in hunger has increased, it is believed, due to the lingering aftereffects of COVID-19.
Already, we see the devastating choices that those we serve are forced to make on a regular basis. Many of our students tell us that they are forced to choose between feeding themselves and their families, paying for rent or eating less to pay for tuition and necessary supplies like books. For many of our students, this is an unfortunate reality they contend with on a daily basis.
Researchers estimate that half of all college students struggle with food insecurity – not knowing where their next meal is coming from – and almost 30% struggle with ongoing and severe hunger-related issues. At UTEP, we recognize that food insecurity is an obstacle to student success and think it's crucial that students' basic needs are being met.
The Pantry stocks non-perishable items like:
Additionally, hygiene items such as deodorant and soap also are available for food pantry beneficiaries. Baskets of food also are distributed to food insecure students before an intersession or school break to ensure they have enough items while UTEP is not in session.
Open during the week, Monday-Friday, students need only to swipe their ID card for access to the Pantry, and they can leave with one meal or groceries for up to a week. Students understand that the pantry is in place for all students and only take provisions that are necessities.
At the beginning and end of each semester, the UTEP Food Pantry sees an increase in visits, requiring more food options on-hand. Supporting the UTEP Food Pantry with your gift will allow them to serve students for an entire semester!
Learn more about the UTEP Food Pantry.