LAS CRUCES, N.M. - Hunger on college campuses -- it's becoming a rising trend all across the nation.
That's why a student organization and the social services department at New Mexico State University have joined together to open a food pantry just for students and employees.
Inside the building of student organization, Christian Challenge, just across the street from campus, volunteers worked hard to fill bags with food on Monday.
It was the very first day of the NMSU food pantry.
NMSU social worker Lori Haussamen told ABC-7 she's been working on this project for two years.
"In our parents' generation, we got this idea that the college student is an 18-to-22-year old who is able to come to school, focus on their studies and it's the highlight of their life. We certainly hope for that and for many students, that probably is the case, but we know we live in a poor state," Haussamen said.
Marie Claire Seoane is one of the thousands of college students across the nation who is struggling.
"I have gone months without paying my car bill because I need a roof and I need to eat," Seoane told ABC-7. "It's horrible. It's really stressful, especially when you have a job and you lose it."
Haussaemen said it's students like Marie Claire who inspired her to open the food pantry.
"I have seen more and more students coming in for basic needs, things like food. They're out of food and they're trying to pay tuition and their bills, and at the end of the day if there's not enough left, they skip meals," Haussamen said.
NMSU student Darren Hotz said the food pantry will provide a huge relief for people like him.
When asked if he ever had a time when he had to think about what not to buy so he can pay the bills, he replied, "Everyday. Everyday. It's a constant battle to try to get extra money to make ends meet."
Each week volunteers will help NMSU students and employees by putting together food bags, filled with simple items like macaroni and cheese and canned vegetables. This small gesture will give them one less expense to worry about when it's time to pay the bills.
"I'm a little bit older than the average normal student here so I have to get my own money to come here and being unemployed, that makes it even harder," Hotz said.
Haussamen and members of Christian Challenge hope that something as seemingly simple as a bag of food will make a hungry Aggie's life better.
"It's hard to concentrate on your studies and it's hard to focus on academics if you're hungry. We hope to provide a source of emergency food assistance," Haussamen said.
The pantry will be open from 4 to 6 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays. Students and employees just need to show a valid NMSU ID.
The pantry is also collecting donations of non-perishable items, including cereal, canned vegetables and peanut butter, among other things.
Food donations can be dropped off at the NMSU Counseling Center in room 100 of Garcia Annex.
The pantry is located inside the Christian Challenge building at 1313 E. University Ave.