Connecting information and ideas with people working for change in New Mexico
sharenm.org                                                                     November 2018
Thoughts on Food

As the holidays approach, our thoughts often turn to food and to those who will be sharing food and hospitality with us. Some of us will no doubt worry about eating too much, and some of us will, unfortunately, worry about not having enough to eat. This newsletter provides information on a number of food resources for New Mexicans. For a listing of food resources in the SHARE Directory, add your location (county, city, or zip code) and a keyword (e.g., meals, soup kitchen, pantry) to this search.  
Hunger in NM is Year-Round

As we enter this holiday season, many New Mexicans will generously donate money and food to help people in need. Non-profit agencies may receive the lion's share of their donations at this time of year, which then support their programs and services throughout the year.

Yet we know that food insecurity is a year-round struggle for far too many - especially families with children, individuals living with disabilities, senior citizens, and working people who do not earn near enough to meet their expenses. Feeding America's annual Map the Meal Gap report shows that New Mexico ranks #1 in childhood hunger and #6 in overall hunger among its residents, with 1 in 4 children at risk for hunger and 1 in 6 in the overall population.

Mag Strittmatter, President and CEO of Roadrunner Food Bank said, "Hunger is a serious issue in our state. When the community invests their time, talents, food and funds in hunger-relief work, they are making a difference in the lives of tens of thousands of our fellow neighbors."  

The last Hunger In America report, facilitated by Roadrunner Food Bank and its national organization Feeding America, shows that every week 70,000 hungry New Mexicans seek food assistance from Roadrunner Food Bank's statewide network. Yet the Map the Meal Gap report shows that for every meal provided, nearly two more are still needed to serve our low-income neighbors in need.

And that's where all of us come in! Volunteers and donors are the bedrock of food assistance programs winter, summer, spring and fall. We can call up our nearest food bank or nearby food pantry and ask, "What can I do to help?" Whether it's one time, occasionally, or on a regular basis, our help can make a real difference in providing a bulwark against hunger. 

For a list of affiliated Roadrunner Food Bank partner agencies, enter your zip code in the Get Help box to find a location in your community. 
Farms to Schools

Since 2007, NM Grown Fresh Fruit and Vegetables for School Meals (NM Grown) has been helping to bring locally grown food into NM schools. In 2018 the program allocation was substantially expanded, and work is currently underway to draft a NM Food and Agriculture Education Grant program for the 2019 Legislative session.
 
The Education Grant program has multiple goals: (1) to introduce students to agriculture-related fields as a career; (2) to increase student access to and relationship with fresh and local NM-grown produce; and (3) support student experiential learning in Common Core, Next Generation Science Standards, and STEM (science, technology, engineer and math).  The grants would be awarded to schools that operate national school lunch programs, in collaboration with community partners. 

Kelsey Rader, Natural Resources Policy Director at New Mexico First, lists the multiple benefits of supporting our NM agriculture sector: "Agriculture is a major economic and health contributor in New Mexico. Farming and ranching are also major economic drivers in almost all of New Mexico's rural economy. Increasing New Mexicans' access to affordable, local, fresh foods could offer another solution in combating hunger and diet-related illnesses such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes."
 
Faith Communities Address Hunger

The Interfaith Hunger Coalition (IHC
) addresses hunger issues in our communities through networking, education, public policy advocacy and direct service. Their goal is to ensure that all New Mexican families have access to healthy and nutritious food. Participating faith partners include Christian, Bahai, Muslim, Jewish, and Sikh.
 
The Advocacy Committee promotes an anti-hunger and anti-poverty agenda to protect the most vulnerable citizens in the state, supporting legislation that will help reduce hunger and address many causes of poverty in our state. The committee finds opportunities to contact legislators and legislative candidates directly to discuss hunger and poverty related issues.
 
The Education Committee organizes Hunger 101 programs and makes presentations to congregations that want to learn more about hunger in New Mexico. Committee members also participate in public anti-hunger events such as the End Hunger Summit and World Food Day. Co-founder Carlos Navarro says, "We are pleased to partner with organizations with statewide reach, such as the Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-NM, the NM Conference of Churches and NM Voices for Children. Our hope is to have a more direct presence in communities across the state via partnerships with local congregations and organizations."
 
One goal of IHC is the creation of a bipartisan "Hunger Council" that would be comprised of legislators, representatives from New Mexico State agencies and local governments, and representatives from organizations working to end hunger and poverty statewide. A committee has been formed to explore how best to realize this goal.

Food for Out-of-School Time

The NM Out-of-School Time Network ( NMOST) has a new resource available to help programs provide food for their young members. Kaski Suzuki, NMOST's new Meals Expansion VISTA, will focus on building the capacity of NM schools and communities to feed hungry children. He plans to convene stakeholders and coordinate services leading to the expansion of nutrition services at afterschool and summer learning program sites.

Children cannot learn, let alone thrive, if they are not properly fed and are not receiving adequate nutritional support. Many afterschool programs have the potential to qualify for free meals and snacks, in turn closing the childhood hunger gap in NM. If you want to learn more about how to bring free meals and snacks to your afterschool program, contact Kaski at (505) 879-8829 or ksuzuki@explora.us.

Have you added or updated your out-of school time program in SHARE's Resource Directory? Download the easy guide and make sure everyone knows about your program. 
Eating Well in NM

Baked Sweet Potatoes.  You don't need to add sugar or molasses to sweeten naturally sweet potatoes. Grant Taylor, Economic Policy Director at NM First, offers this easy recipe. Use a two-pronged carving fork to poke holes across the top of a good size sweet potato. Loosely wrap the sweet potato in an airtight foil wrapper. Bake at 350 degrees for 2 hours. The natural sugar in the potato will caramelize, the skin will fall off, and your potato will be moist and delicious. 

Three Sisters Kitchen in Albuquerque invites you to help create their Community Cookbook.  Three Sisters Kitchen believes that sharing our food traditions builds stronger communities. Share your recipes and the stories behind them by answering  a few questions here
Do you have news to SHARE?

Do you have news or events that you would like New Mexicans to know about? We can help you get the word out. Send your information items to wendy@sharenm.org. Post your events on one of our many SHARE calendars. Visit our County and Initiative pages to find out what's happening in your communities of interest. Recommend a resource for our SHARE Library. And don't forget to check our Grants & Funding page to see if there is a grant opportunity for YOU.  
SHARE New Mexico is a nonprofit organization dedicated to sharing information and encouraging collaboration for positive change in New Mexico. Join the SHARE community and help us continue our mission of improving the quality of life for all New Mexicans through shared access to reliable data, information and resources.