Food scarcity: UTEP’s latest obstacle


Joel Molina

The UTEP Food Pantry was established in 2014 and provides food security to staff and undergraduate/graduate students who are enrolled in the fall and spring semesters.

Victoria Castillo, Contributor

Student council members presented to the administrative guest a call to action regarding food security and housing, April 21. Which sparked a discussion of what more can be done to assist students toward their academic success.
During this conversation food scarcity was the main topic of what can prevent a student from growing while working towards a higher education. Although food is a basic human necessity, some students have been faced with the harsh reality of seeing it as a luxury item.
46 percent of students stated they ate less despite feeling like they should not, and 38.2 percent of students skipped meals because of the lack of money for food in 2022, according to the Hunt Institute survey.
Lisette Gonzalez, a member of student council and attendee of the UTEP Food and Housing Security presentation, conducted a series of interviews with students regarding their budget for food weekly. Most students had a budget ranging from $25-$35 a week.
One student Gonzalez had interviewed disclosed “Because my class is early; I will get a coffee at the food bank and skip straight to dinner. If I can make a big enough dinner, I do not have to eat breakfast.”
Although the numbers are high for those who must see food as a luxury rather than a necessity many students are unaware of the assistant programs UTEP has on campus. One program would be the Food Pantry, which is a reliable source for UTEP students to collect food or snacks for free.
If there is a food pantry dedicated to feeding students who need assistance, why are the numbers so high? This could be because many students are unaware UTEP has a food pantry, the location is also not convenient and the stigmas regarding asking for help prevent them from doing so. Some students may feel shame or that they are taking from someone who is in more need than themselves. Such as Samantha Medina, a current junior at UTEP, who has not visited the food pantry due to this reason.
“I just wouldn’t want to take away from those who need it and benefit from it,” Medina said.
Another way students could be more aware of the food pantry is through word-of-mouth marketing.
“I heard about the food pantry in my communication leadership class. One of our projects was researching non-profit organizations in El Paso, my professor suggested UTEP’S food pantry,” said Savannah Dixon, a UTEP senior. “I have been here four years, and I just found out about the pantry last semester.”
The word is being shared about the programs UTEP has for students in need, it is just a matter of getting the information further out to those who need it.
Initiatives like changing the food pantries name to a more welcoming one or moving locations such as going to the union or outside the Undergraduate Learning Center (UGLC) building were brought up as well.
“I saw a box with snacks, mugs, and other things by cotton memorial that was labeled grab what you need! I felt more welcome to take what I needed; I feel like for the food pantry if it were labeled something like that I would likely stop by also if it were closer to campus” said Pablo Andre Bojorjes, a UTEP senior.
With the wave of graduating students and incoming freshmen incentives to make the food pantry more accessible, are being discussed. If you or you know someone who has found themselves in need of food check out the food pantry. The food pantry is located at UTEP Memorial Gym Room 105, 101 West Robinson Ave. Donations to the pantry are also welcomed. Students can also find affordable meal plans with Pick ‘N’ Shovel located at the Don Haskins.
Victoria Castillo is a contributor and may be reached at [email protected]