Monthly Archives: February 2013
A big part of my job as a development professional is going out into the community and talking with people about the work of Roadrunner and the people we serve. When I am out doing these talks, I often play the part of presenter and myth buster as there are so many myths when it comes to hunger, why it exists and who is hungry. The face of a hungry person and the reason people struggle with hunger are surprising to many. I wanted to take some time to write about three common myths regarding our work and give you the facts. Myth: Most of the people experiencing hunger are homeless. Fact: In the past the face of hunger was easily associated with a homeless individual, perhaps a man or woman standing on a street corner with a sign that reads “Will work for Food.” In reality, the homeless population accounts for a very small percentage of the nearly 40,000 people we serve weekly, only about 8%. This means that the remaining 92% of the people we serve are living in homes or an apartment. They pay mortgages or rent along with their other monthly expenses, but they don’t have the resources to make ends meet. A big majority of our total distribution goes not to the homeless but to vulnerable populations such as children and seniors. Almost half or 40% of the people we serve are children and 13% are seniors. Another interesting fact is that nearly one third of the households receiving food from Roadrunner include someone who is working.
A few years ago the Rotary Club of Albuquerque Rio Grande approached us about supporting our Food for Kids backpack program. While many generous donors make much-needed gifts to this program, they wanted to do more than just give money. They really wanted to get involved with a particular school. I think their support and involvement is a great model for others. A shocking 40% of all the people we serve are children. Child food insecurity in our state is 7% above the national rate of 21.6%. One way we reach children is through our Food for Kids backpack program. We send home a backpack of non-perishable, kid-friendly food with 3,495 elementary school children every Friday during the school year. These kids are getting lunch at school, but on the weekends they don’t, so too often they come to school on Monday hungry, upset and unable to enjoy school. The Rotary Club of Albuquerque Rio Grande said they wanted to work with a school in the South Valley by tying their $11,000 gift for Food for Kids to volunteer time. We suggested Navajo Elementary; a school that has been in the program since 2006 and receives 112 backpacks per week. We put them in touch with the Food for Kids coordinator at the school. Since 2011, their Rotary Club members have installed playground equipment including four-square courts. They’ve brought the kids exercise equipment like jump ropes and soccer balls. Ryan Jaseph, a club member says that their volunteer times at the school have been some of their most popular events. Ryan said, “Every time we’re at the school we can see how much these kids appreciate and need our support. As a club we’re really hands on so this has been a great partnership.” Navajo Elementary is lucky to be involved with this great group of supporters, but there are 40 other Food for Kids schools that have not been “adopted.” If you are a member of a group that might be interested in adopting a school, please give me a call at 349-8678 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Stephanie Miller is the Director of Development for Roadrunner Food Bank.
Every Feb. 14, we’re bombarded with a barrage of advertisements in celebration of what my husband calls “Amateur Day.” Storefronts boast pink and red decorations, children exchange candy and sweet notes with classmates and bouquets of flowers start popping up in coworkers’ offices. It’s the one day where we all pause to connect with the people we love. But when I think of the word “love,” I don’t necessarily associate it with a dozen red roses or my body weight in chocolate. It’s a powerful word that communicates how I feel about my family, my dog, my friends and my community. It explains how I feel about snowboarding and nachos. And it describes what motivates me to be a better person and help people I don’t even know. It hurts my heart to know that there are people right here in my neighborhood that will be spending Valentine’s Day trying to figure out how to feed their children dinner. It makes me sad to think of the elementary school children with hungry bellies who won’t get to enjoy holidays the way that I always have. Eating is such an enjoyable event that we often forget is a luxury for some people in our community. I keep a thank you note on my office wall from a Roadrunner Food Bank event from a child that says, “My mom lost her job and we couldn’t buy food. Thank you for helping us so that we can have breakfast.” It’s a reminder that little acts of love really do make a difference. What I appreciate most about Roadrunner is that it can take donations, no matter how small, and turn them into nourishment for people in need. It’s great that there are programs designed to meet the specific needs of seniors, of children and of families in crisis. There are so many ways for volunteers and donors to help Roadrunner share the love. So in honor of Valentine’s Day, let my first declaration of love be to the people who make Roadrunner Food Bank tick. Thank you for making Albuquerque a better place. Annemarie Ciepiela Henton is a volunteer that serves on the Food Bank’s Communications Committee.
Valentine’s Day is just about here. Many of us love to give flowers or candy hearts with all those funny and cute messages that say, “Be Mine,” “Cool Cat,” or “Purrrfect.” And I adore the new ones that combine the technology of today with sayings like, “Tweet Me,” “U R QT” (you are cute), and “Text Me.” During the month of hearts and flowers we have two ideas for you to help the Food Bank. The first idea involves the heart. Every year, Scouts from the Great Southwest Council and the Yucca Council host their annual Scouting for Food Drive. Scouts go out during the first Saturday in February and distribute bags to homes across the metro area asking homeowners to consider donating non-perishable food to local hunger relief organizations. Then, the second Saturday in February, Scouts go back to those same homes to pick up food donations for hunger relief organizations just like Roadrunner Food Bank.