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‘You can’t learn if you’re worried about your next meal’: New Mexico bill aims to reduce hunger among college students

One New Mexico legislator wants to make sure college food banks have the resources they need.
One New Mexico legislator wants to make sure college food banks have the resources they need.

SANTA FE, New Mexico -- For dozens of New Mexico State Univeristy students, the availability of donated food is the difference between their decision to stay in class or drop out.

"For a lot of them, it means between staying in school or not to be honest," said Meg Long, program specialist for the Aggie Cupboard.

About 80 to 90 people a week rely on donated goods at the food bank, she told ABC-7. That includes students, faculty and staff at New Mexico State University.

"It affects their ability to sleep, to focus, to do well," Long said.

One state representative from Las Cruces has introduced a bill in the New Mexico Legislature seeking to help hungry college students get the food they need to survive.

"You can't learn if you're worried about your next meal," said State Rep. Joanne Ferrary, a Democrat representing Doña Ana County.

House Bill 69 would appropriate $100,000 to create a "pilot program to reduce college hunger."

Ferrary told ABC-7 that college students "have so many things to juggle, like paying for their tuition, their rent, their transportation, possibly family."

The program would operate like a state grant, Ferrary said. Universities would submit proposals as to how they could best use the money or how the funds would help strengthen the resources of their college food bank.

She also said the money would be an investment in New Mexico's economy, ensuring that college students continue their studies and don't drop out due to food insecurity.

"We depend on young people getting the education to help us," Ferrary said.

The Aggie Cupboard is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays. On Tuesday, their hours are 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. On Thursday, their hours are 3 to 6 p.m.

Article Topic Follows: New Mexico

Kate Bieri

Kate Bieri is ABC-7’s New Mexico Mobile Newsroom reporter and co-anchors ABC-7’s weekend evening newscasts.


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