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Monthly Archives: October 2012

Small Business, Big Heart

One of our Food Rescue partners recently told me, “We are in a unique situation. We are able to donate 18,945 pounds of meat, which equals $61,000, because we are blessed, and we want to bless the less fortunate in our community” This quote is from Mario Sanchez, owner of Sunset Foods, in Tome, New Mexico, a manufacturer of beef jerky. I have the privilege of working with New Mexico businesses that donate food to Roadrunner Food Bank. Sunset Foods is one of those companies. They hold a special place in my heart, because as a small business to donate so much meat helps ensure hungry people in our community have protein sources to eat. Essential to the operation of a Food Bank is rescuing food. What is Food Rescue? It is defined as the practice of safely retrieving edible food that would otherwise go to waste, and distributed to those in need. Meat is especially precious. Protein is what we are always trying to get donated, and because of cost the least likely to be donated. At the Food Bank, we find it absolutely wonderful that this small family business started in 1984 takes our message of fighting hunger and feeding hope to heart by giving us unsalable foods for our vulnerable neighbors. We are privileged to receive their generous donation of meat products and pleased to steward their generous gift into the hands of the hungry. At Roadrunner Food Bank we are our proud to call Sunset Foods our partner. Thank you staff of Sunset Foods! Julie Anderson is the Food Rescue Manager at Roadrunner Food Bank.  Last year, the Food Rescue program kept 16 million pounds of food out of landfills to distribute to hungry people across the state.

Driving Home Last Week

So it is that time of year once again, I can’t believe it is already here; “Winter time.” Time for the weather to change and get colder, time for the leaves to fall off the trees, time to dress the kids warmer, time to change the air conditioner in our home to heat, time to think about the holidays, Oh the holidays! Lots of good food, tamales, posole and biscochitos, just to name a few. We gather with family and friends, and, oh, we can’t forget about the stress. As parents, we think about what gifts to get our children. But, there is something else we need to think about; how we are going to get more food to people that need food assistance during these cold months ahead. As I was driving home the other day I was passing a bridge and underneath was a blanket and a back pack. I thought to myself “that is the only place that person may call home and they may have left the bridge to find food for that evening. Does that person underneath that bridge have a family? Has that person ever had the opportunity to have the luxuries we have, a warm shower, food in our pantries at all times, clothes in our closet that we can choose from on a day to day basis.” There are so many homeless people standing in long lines just trying to get a bowl of warm soup from their nearby shelter. Unfortunately I see this first- hand working at the Food Bank and this has made me realize that hunger is even greater now.  We need businesses as well as organizations, churches and schools to work together and host food drives this holiday season as well as throughout the year. This will help people suffering from hunger in silence put food on tables and have mothers and fathers not stress about how they are going to feed their family or wonder what their next meal may be. The donations we received from food drives and our drop off locations throughout the Albuquerque and Rio Rancho area are so important and we would not be able to feed as many people if we didn’t have the help of our community. So my final thought is this, Help, Help, Help. Help donate and give back to the community. It only takes a few minutes to give but it will change a person’s life in an instant. Annamarie Maez is the Food Drive Coordinator at Roadrunner Food Bank.

The Value of a Volunteer

Volunteers, a precious resource we cannot afford to lose -Denise Penn When was the last time you tried to ride a bike but didn’t have wheels?  Or when was the last time you attempted to drive your car without the engine?  Similar to the wheels on your bike and the engine in your car, this is equivalent to what volunteers mean to Roadrunner Food Bank.  There is no way we could distribute enough food to help nearly 40,000 people per week without them. Volunteering is about giving; it’s about contributing and helping individuals and populations in and around the community.   Volunteering is beyond valuable. In the last fiscal year Roadrunner had over 18,000 volunteers walk through our doors.  That is an extraordinary amount of people!  Every single one of them made the decision to dedicate their time, talents and energy to helping out.  In that same year, these volunteer contributed almost 41,000 hours of service for the greater good.  A recent estimated dollar value of a volunteer was $21.36 per hour.  So what would be the monetary value of these volunteers?  $875,760!  According to one estimate from the Corporation for National and Community Service, about 63.4 million Americans — nearly 27 percent of the adult population — contribute a collective 8.1 billion hours of volunteer service worth $169 billion a year. I don’t always like to quantify the value of the many volunteers that help us prep food to distribute thousands upon thousands of pounds of food through our doors every day.  But I do want them to realize how much of an impact they are making whether individually or as a group.  And I don’t mind letting them know that Roadrunner Food Bank would have to hire almost 20 full-time employees in order to do what they do for us over the course of a year. But it is not about the numbers or the money.  Community members volunteer for a wide variety of reasons.  Some volunteer to meet new people, possibly to acquire a new skill or just to give back to their community. Whatever their reason, every single person is valuable to our mission and they know that they are giving their time to a cause for the greater good. Matt Sanderson is the Volunteer and Event Engagement Manager at Roadrunner Food Bank.

Composting and Recycling, Doing our Part

My wife and I recently moved to the East Mountains and found a local waste disposal company. I called up and ordered weekly pick up for approximately twenty dollars a month. After a week I called back and cancelled the service. You may ask what happened. The answer is fairly simple, we recycle and compost. After dealing with the materials that were left from our moving process, which were recyclable, we had very little trash that my wife and I accumulated throughout the week. I was able to give up a 40 gallon container because with our recycling and composting we generate about 2 plastic shopping bags of trash every three weeks. Now we managed to save about $15 a month on trash costs. Roadrunner on the other hand has managed to save $65,000 by recycling and composting. I bring my recyclables to the Food Bank and they make money off of them. Roadrunner can accept clean recyclables and turn them into savings and food. Roadrunner recycles all plastics, all paper products, cardboard and aluminum. The items are then bailed and sold to a local recycler. The money gained is put back into our operating costs, thus freeing up money to be used for purchasing food. The food waste that is generated from non-edible food products is now composted and saves money on our trash costs. Learn about the Food Bank’s recycling program here. If you are interested in recycling with Roadrunner please contact us.  Your recycling efforts with the Food Bank can put meals into the mouths of hungry people across the state. Lars Stendera is the Recycling Supervisor at Roadrunner Food Bank.

Helping someone is often easier than we think

When you are committed to helping others there is no limit to where and what you can do; everyone needs help with something no matter who or where you are in the world. There are varying degrees of aid, and having spent time in foreign countries, I don’t think it’s fair to say that people abroad need more than we as Americans do. I think that misconception exists because the general standard of living we are capable of achieving is much higher here than in other parts of the world. A good example of how everyone can use help comes from my time spent living in Brazil. When I lived in Brazil I was there to help the most impoverished population, but what I didn’t know was how I needed their help too. In Brazil I worked in an emergency food program (EFP) which served the women and children living in a rural favela, or slum, outside of Montenegro in Rio Grande do Sul, the southernmost state of Brazil. During this time I was tasked with helping these women generate income by making crafts out of items that could be found or reused. Being a highly educated woman from the United States, suffice it to say my crochet and rug making lessons were somewhat obtuse, but I tried! After our lessons we would distribute food to those women, and they would walk back into the favela to their hovels and shacks. The feeling of giving someone food, knowing that they cannot and may never be able to provide for themselves or their family is heartbreaking. I could help, but what could I really do to change their lives? Little did I know that it was what they would do for me in return that would change my life and lead me to where I am today.

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