Student record

New Mexico will be the first state in the nation to study student food security and housing needs at all public colleges and universities in the state.

Dr. Sarita Cargas, UNM Basic Needs Project Research Manager

HED News:

SANTA FE – The New Mexico Department of Higher Education (HED) and researchers at the University of New Mexico (UNM) announced that New Mexico would be the first state to initiate a scale study of the state to assess the food security and housing needs of students. New Mexico Public Colleges and Universities.

“The free and reduced lunch programs are part of an ongoing national effort to make sure kids don’t go hungry during the school day, but as students enter college, these nets security vanishes and students wonder when they’ll eat again,’ Lt,” Gov. Howie Morales said. “As a nation, we don’t have a lot of data and research telling us how college students are impacted by food insecurity. However, thanks to Governor Lujan Grisham’s Food Initiative in partnership with the Department of Higher Education and the University of New Mexico Basic Needs Project, we can address this issue and enable students on every campus to succeed, to obtain their diploma and to enter the job market more easily.

The Statewide Basic Food and Housing Needs Survey will be used to help decision makers allocate resources with targeted solutions to students and communities most in need. Funded by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s Food Initiative, the research project will engage 28 public college and university campuses, faculty, and student researchers led by the University of New Mexico Basic Needs Project with Dr. Sarita Cargas as head of research.

The initiative was officially launched at an event last week at the University of New Mexico with Lt. Governor Morales, Secretary of Higher Education Stephanie M. Rodriguez, and education officials and students. superior.

The agency also announced that 15 campus-based student food security projects will receive total funding of $900,000 through the Governor Lujan Grisham’s Food Initiative, including student pantries, food centers, greenhouses and food education programs that are expected to benefit more than 15,000 students affected by food insecurity. Governor Lujan Grisham has committed more than $24 million this year to food security through a collaboration of eight agencies, including the New Mexico Department of Higher Education, marking the largest investment to fight hunger in the history of the state. The agency will announce the grant winners in a separate release in the coming days.

This funding continues food security work that the New Mexico Department of Higher Education began earlier this year. In 2021, the agency received a total of $100,000 approved by Governor Lujan Grisham to five New Mexico colleges and universities for food-related programs. Many grantees have also secured matching funds from institutional, community and non-profit partners.

“Together with Governor Lujan Grisham and our higher education partners, we are leading the nation and continuing the work to ensure New Mexico college and university campuses are hunger-free and ready for students,” said said Assistant Secretary Dr. Patricia Trujillo, who leads the project at the agency. “That’s why we are committed to supporting students not only through a tuition-free college, but also through the comprehensive services that will help them reach graduation day.”

The University of New Mexico Basic Needs Project research team is developing the survey, which will be rolled out statewide early next year. The answers will help researchers understand levels of hunger, food insecurity and other needs.

The 2023 study will gather information on student needs from 28 public and tribal college and university campuses in New Mexico that will inform policies and funding to meet basic student needs. University of New Mexico President Garnett Stokes also named the project as one of UNM’s Grand Challenges, research initiatives that aim to solve important problems in the state.

“No one has done a statewide study like we’re about to get started on. The body of research on the problem of college hunger and housing insecurity is young. but growing.There are no national data for students as there are for household hunger and very little research has included students in the South West.In collaboration with the Department of Education higher education in New Mexico, we are forming these partnerships to fill the gaps that will make New Mexico a national leader in the fight against college hunger,” said Dr. Sarita Cargas, associate professor of human rights at the University of New Mexico and director of the UNM Basic Needs Project.

According to UNM’s 2021 Basic Needs Report, about a third of University of New Mexico students reported being food insecure and more than a quarter did not have reliable access to enough food. affordable and nutritious foods, with Native Americans, Hispanics, Blacks and LGTBQ+. struggling students at higher rates. Food-insecure students were nearly twice as likely to drop out or fail multiple courses as food-secure students, and nearly 20% of food-insecure Native American, Hispanic, and Black students food did not return the following semester.

“As someone who experienced a lot of food insecurity growing up and even in college – I actually dropped out of college because of food issues and basic needs – it’s important to get the numbers and data on why it happens. It seems impossible to succeed when you struggle with it. You can’t study, you can’t concentrate or do anything,” said Cassandra Huneau, currently a researcher undergraduate at the University of New Mexico working on the statewide study.

For more information about New Mexico Department of Higher Education food initiatives and funding opportunities, visit our website at For more information on the UNM Basic Needs Project, visit