One Stop to Support: Meeting the Need for On-Campus Food Assistance

Students gather fresh produce at a recent collaboration between the WNMU One Stop and Roadrunner Food Bank, Dec. 7, 2023.

© Western New Mexico University

When Kimberly Woodard (BS ’03, MAIS ‘08) began work as the WNMU Student Services Coordinator in August, she had never run a food pantry before. Now, managing the One Stop on campus is one of her essential job responsibilities.

Woodard, whose background is in social work, has embraced the challenges of her new position enthusiastically. In particular, she has established, or in some cases re-established, relationships with a number of statewide and community partners.

One of those partnerships is with Roadrunner Food Bank, the largest food bank in New Mexico, which currently makes deliveries to the One Stop twice a month. “In December they will be bringing a mobile food pantry to campus,” Woodward said. At this mobile event, each household served will be eligible to take home 40 pounds of food.

The One Stop also partners with St. Francis Newman Center, the Gospel Mission and the Commons Center for Food Security and Sustainability. The latter has a commercial kitchen, said Woodard, and their College Culinary Club uses it to learn about cooking and make complete meals available to the One Stop.

Woodard said she is also in the process of re-establishing the Swipe Out Hunger program, which allows students, staff and faculty to donate unused dining hall meals to students that need them.

The need for these collaborations has increased, indicated Woodward. In October, 152 students visited the food pantry, with 319 total visits, and the numbers have been increasing every month.

Woodard attributes the increasing need in part to changes in Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program (SNAP) benefits. SNAP benefits were widely expanded during the COVID-19 pandemic but have now been reduced. This reduction comes at a time when food prices have been rising. In addition, said Woodward, at the state level applications for SNAP benefits have been backlogged, so many people who are entitled to the benefits have been unable to receive them. “I am positive that has a lot to do with [the increased demand at WNMU],” said Woodard, “Food insecurity is running rampant, especially in rural areas in New Mexico.”

Woodard said that some items in the pantry are in demand more than others. In particular, she said, pistachios, milk and eggs are among the most requested items. On the other hand, lentils are more likely to stay on the shelf. Beyond food, some of the most sought-after items are hygiene products.

While Woodard has only been the Student Services Coordinator since August, she has a much longer history of working in different capacities at WNMU and feels her current position is a good fit for her. “I love this environment,” she said, “The Student Life department has been fantastic. We all work great together.”

She especially appreciates how she is able to serve students so directly. “Student Life, and WNMU staff and faculty in general, are here to help,” Woodard emphasized, “We are pushing forward hard to be as helpful to the student population as possible, so if there is anything students need, if there is information that they need—anything—we are here. Come and ask. If I don’t have the answer, I will find it and get it to you.”

The One Stop welcomes donations, large or small. Items may be dropped off directly to the pantry, and for nonperishable items, there are donation boxes located in the library lobby, outside the One Stop in the Student Life Lounge, and near the snack bar in the Brancheau P.E. Complex. At the donation boxes, donors can find a list of items that are most in need.

The One Stop also has an Amazon wish list of frequently requested items.

The One Stop is located in the Student Life office on the 3rd floor of the Student Memorial Building. It is open Monday through Friday 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM when classes are in session, and it is open select hours over breaks.

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