Monthly Archives: March 2014
When I first started working as a food sourcer for Roadrunner Food Bank five years ago, we had dedicated food partners even back then. Each week food partners donated their unsaleable food. Some weeks we were more or less depending on the influx of food in the market. (Target stores bring employees to volunteer every year) With passing year since I started, the Food Bank has seen the need growing as food lines and the number of hungry people who needed our services escalated. Between the recession and a struggling economy, more people continue to turn to us and our network of partner agencies to feed their families throughout the month. A majority of the food we supply to hungry people comes from our food partners. Without their generosity, many hungry New Mexicans wouldn’t have food from the Food Bank to count on from month to month.
For the past three years Roadrunner Food Bank’s Southern Branch has been the beneficiary of a very large and meaningful food drive event in Southern New Mexico. The Bataan Memorial Death March (www.bataanmarch.com) is a challenging march through White Sands Missile Range in honor of service members who defended the Philippine Islands during World War II. On April 9, 1942, tens of thousands of American and Filipino soldiers were surrendered to Japanese forces and among those seized were members of the 200th Coast Artillery, New Mexico National Guard. They were forced to march for days in the scorching heat through the Philippine jungles. Thousands died. Those who survived faced the hardships of a POW camp. Others were wounded or killed when unmarked enemy ships transporting POW’s to Japan were sunk by U.S. air and naval forces.
Next week is St. Patrick’s Day and at Roadrunner we’re celebrating by reflecting on what we’ve done during the past year to be more “green.” Everything we’re doing to save energy, food and therefore money, might surprise you. We call all of our efforts in this area our Green Initiatives. Baler we use daily to prep 284,000 pounds of recyclables in 2013. Recyclables include items such as cardboard, plastic, paper, etc. By far the biggest thing we do that is “green” is food rescue. While some of the food that we acquire is brand new, most is food that a retailer or wholesaler doesn’t want to sell to their regular customers. We say we “rescue” this food because it would otherwise go into landfills if retailers, manufacturers and growers didn’t have us to give it to. In 2013, we rescued, or facilitated the rescue of, almost 23 million pounds of food. Next time you are at the Food Bank, we’ll show you what this food looks like. Most of it is beautiful, fresh, nutritious food. What we can’t use we compost, which is another Green Initiatives activity. After feeding people, “food rescue” is probably the most important service we provide because here in America we throw away a shameful 40% ($165 billion’s worth) of all the food we produce.
On Sunday, February 23, I had the opportunity to meet with the members of the newly formed Interfaith Hunger Coalition. About 90 people gathered in the fellowship hall of First Presbyterian Church to talk about how communities of faith in Albuquerque and elsewhere in New Mexico can work together to address hunger in our communities. Some of those in the room were pastors and rabbis and others were representatives of agencies like Catholic Charities, but the vast majority were people who sit in the pews, chair mission committees, volunteer at food pantries, work in the community, support community gardens and are involved in many more activities providing direct assistance to people in need. There were also a few children and families and retired individuals who also attended. (about 90 people of many faiths attended the first Interfaith Hunger Coalition meeting) The goal of the Interfaith Hunger Coalition is to create a space for people of faith to offer ideas and proposals on how and where the faith community can focus their efforts to reduce the impact of hunger in New Mexico. At this meeting, Ruth Hoffman (Lutheran Advocacy Ministry – New Mexico), Nancy Pope (Share our Strength), and I got to spend a few minutes sharing our perspective on the issue of hunger and areas where people and organizations can focus their efforts for maximum impact. We also had the chance to hear from Tony Pelletier, a member of the Community of Hope, who told us about how he and his wife Julie had personally dealt hunger.