Heat or Eat
It’s a choice no American should have to make.
Right now, more than 387,000 of our neighbors in New Mexico are struggling to make ends meet. And as temperatures drop, they are faced with a horrible decision: Do I buy food or turn on the heat? Tragically, many are like Angel.
At 78, Angel suffers from diabetes, high blood pressure, and has trouble walking. When she is forced to skip meals, she feels dizzy and sick. Her husband died from cancer six months ago and she is adjusting to living alone.
“This is the first winter that I’m without Daniel — we were married for more than 50 years,” she said. “I don’t feel good because all I had to eat today was a small bowl of cereal with three teaspoons of milk. I have to ration everything I eat because if I don’t, I won’t be able to pay my heating bill. My doctor said that I should eat healthier food, but I just can’t afford to.”
Thankfully, Angel went to a partner food pantry and she was amazed at the selection of food. She received chicken, tomatoes, apples, green beans, cereal, rice, beans, and other groceries. She said, “For the first time in weeks, I can have a healthy meal that I won’t have to ration. I don’t know how to thank you.”
There are still so many neighbors who are struggling. A gift today allows us to help so many more hungry people. Please be as generous as possible and send your gift today or click here to give.
Updated Study Reflects Rise in Hunger in New Mexico
For the second year in a row, New Mexico ranks #1 for childhood hunger. The 2014 release of Map the Meal Gap shows the childhood hunger rate in New Mexico is 29.2% with one in three children growing up hungry. The report shows that more than 150,000 New Mexico children are at risk of hunger.
Melody Wattenbarger, president and CEO of Roadrunner Food Bank said, “This should be a wakeup call for everyone in our state. Until we make sure that our children aren’t going to school hungry, we won’t be able to solve any of the other problems we have. If you look at indicators like our children’s abysmal test scores, health, graduation rates and future wages, childhood hunger underpins them all. Agencies like ours can’t address this issue alone. It’s a statewide problem. It needs a statewide response.”
Over the past four years, Roadrunner Food Bank’s national organization, Feeding America, has released the annual study to measure hunger and the gap of meals by state and county.
New Mexico is fourth in overall hunger among states, tied with Alabama and North Carolina. 18.6% of people in New Mexico are at risk of experiencing hunger in New Mexico overall. Nationwide, the hunger rate is 15.9%.
The annual Map the Meal Gap report also estimates the meal gap by state and county and the food budget shortfall for low-income households. In 2014, the report showed New Mexico’s meal gap is 67,795,200 translating into a food budget shortfall of $175,675,500. The average cost per meal in New Mexico is $2.59 according to the report.
The top five New Mexico counties with the highest rates of hunger overall and for children are below. Luna County ranked as the hungriest county in New Mexico for both children and the overall population:
Luna – 39.7%
Taos – 32.6%
Cibola – 32.4%
McKinley – 32.2%
Luna – 22.9%
McKinley – 22.2%
Cibola – 18.3%
Sierra – 18%
Roosevelt and San Juan – 17.7%
To Map the Meal Gap in any New Mexico County, visit www.feedingamerica.org/mapthegap.
Food Rescue – Keeping Food Out of Landfills
Many of us feel terribly guilty when we have to throw food away, and Americans toss a lot of food annually. The Environmental Protection Agency reported that in 2010 Americans threw away about 33 million tons of food.
But at Roadrunner Food Bank, we and our food industry partners have been rescuing food in Albuquerque and New Mexico for more than 30 years. What does that mean, food rescue? Food rescue is defined as, “the practice of safely retrieving edible food that would otherwise go to waste, and distributing it to those in need. The recovered food is edible, but often not saleable. Products that are past their sell by dates or are imperfect in any way are able to be donated by food industry donors.”
Roadrunner Food Bank’s Food Rescue program picks up unprepared foods weekly at 100 different locations. Food that is picked up as part of the Food Rescue Program includes items such as bakery items, meat, dairy, produce, canned goods and dry goods.
And volunteers are key to executing a successful food rescue program. Once the food arrives at the Food Bank, volunteers sort, label, box or repack food items allowing us to more quickly process and distribute food to partner agencies and through our direct service programs.
Last year, we rescued 19.7 million pounds of food. We kept it out of landfills and placed it in the hands of the nearly 40,000 people we help every week.
Recently Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and the USDA will begin placing an emphasis on food rescue and encouraging Americans to participate.
Learn more about our Food Rescue Program here and see the top food industry donors participating in our Food Rescue Program.