The Prospector

UTEP food pantry makes the move to Memorial Gym

Catherine Ramirez, Contributor

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The UTEP Food Pantry is expected to move to the concession stand room in Memorial Gym by the end of the month.

The food pantry’s new location at Memorial Gym is three times larger than its current site at the Union West building where it has remained since 2015.

“This new site will allow us to service more people and give much more food,” said Catie McCorry-Andalis, Ed.D., Associate Vice President and Dean of Students, who manages the food pantry.

Space was not the only factor when choosing a new location for the pantry but also its accessibility for students. Memorial Gym is surrounded by parking lots, roads and bus stops that make it easier for students to go in and take the food they need.

“Miner Village dorms are next to Memorial Gym so the students who live there can easily make their way to the gym when they can’t afford groceries,” said Jocelyn Torres, Mechanical Engineer senior.

College students’ inability to afford food, after paying for other expenses like tuition and textbooks, is a growing issue on all college campuses. About 200 students benefit from the UTEP food pantry every month and more students are expected to visit the food pantry at the new location in Memorial Gym.

“Part of it is about the food but the other part is about education outreach about this issue on college campuses and bringing awareness about what this means for students,” McCorry-Andalis said.

The Dean of Students office will employ UTEP students to operate the UTEP food pantry and help students who are in need of other resources.

Student employees will undergo training to better understand and support the needs of struggling students to ensure a healthy academic and social life at UTEP.

“Student who have a need for food often have a need for other resources and services, they might be homeless and need a place to stay,” McCorry-Andalis said. “So we are going to start connecting all those services.”

In order to receive food from the pantry, students must take their Miner Gold Card to verify they are currently enrolled UTEP students.

The Dean of Students Office wants to reassure all Miners that all identities of the individuals who use the food pantry can continue to remain anonymous at the new location.  

“There are many students who aren’t fortunate enough to provide meals for themselves,” Torres said. “It helps that it is completely anonymous, so it should make them feel a bit more comfortable to get what they need.”

The Student Government Association (SGA) partnered with the Military Student Success Center and hosted a Car/Motorcycle Show to benefit the UTEP food pantry and the Military Resource food pantry on Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018.

The show’s registration fee, to display vehicles, was nonperishable food items in hopes to stock both pantries on campus.

“We are hoping to get enough donations to fill both pantries,” said Mario Diaz, Senator-at-Large with the SGA and the coordinator of the Car/Motorcycle Show. “We are also hoping to get the veterans on campus more involved”

The Military Resource Center’s food pantry is currently being utilized on a regular basis by 75 unique individuals and is servicing about 150 people monthly.

SGA and the Military Student Success Center aimed to recognize that the UTEP community acknowledges veterans needs.

“The purpose is to let them know that UTEP community is very supportive of the military community,” said Jessica Pilson, Military Students Association.

All UTEP students who need food are encouraged to use the pantries if necessary. The pantries are a reminder to those struggling that they are not alone.

The Military Resource Center food pantry is located in El Paso Natural Gas Center next to Quiznos.

Although the UTEP food pantry isn’t expected to open until late September 2018, students can stop by Room 112 in the Union West building to receive food if they need or to donate nonperishable food.

A new website for the UTEP food pantry is expected to launch prior to the opening of the new food pantry at Memorial Gym. The website will provide educational outreach, information about events, specific nonperishable foods needed for the pantry and a tab that will allow monetary donations.

Catherine Ramirez may be reached at theprospector1@gmail.com.

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