Serving the High Plains

Relief funds given to food banks

About $5 million in coronavirus relief funds from last month’s New Mexico Legislature special session recently were distributed to five major food banks, including the Clovis-based Food Bank of Eastern New Mexico.

Food Bank of Eastern New Mexico is affiliated with food agencies based in Tucumcari, House, Logan, Nara Visa, Grady and San Jon.

The funds were distributed equitably last week to the five major food banks that support all 33 counties and tribal communities through an existing hunger relief network:

• Road Runner Food Bank in Albuquerque

• The Food Depot in Santa Fe

• The Community Pantry in Gallup

• Food Bank of Eastern New Mexico in Clovis

• ECHO Inc. in Farmington

The Human Services Department administers the USDA TEFAP program that distributes food to low- income New Mexicans in all counties and will use poverty data by county to divide the $5 million between the food banks and the counties they serve.

The funds will be used to purchase food to supplement the USDA TEFAP program and other donated food distributed through a network of 600 food pantries in New Mexico.

One of the benefits of partnering with food banks includes their purchasing power through their network of partners at highly discounted rates. At Food Bank of Eastern New Mexico, it estimates that every $1 given provides three meals.

Recent research released by the food banks’ national organization Feeding America shows hunger during the pandemic is expected to increase.

New Mexico ranks seventh among the states with the 10 highest rates of projected food in security and third-highest for projected child food insecurity for 2020.

According to the study in 2018 before the pandemic, 315,990 people in New Mexico, including 114,180 children, did not have adequate access to nutritious food to live a healthy life. Updated projections in the study predict this number is likely to grow 76,430, including 33,310 children with 392,420, or 18.7%, of New Mexicans may experience food insecurity in 2020, including one in three children.

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