Author Archives: Kathy Komoll
For the fourth year in a row, Feeding America has released Map the Meal Gap to show the extent of hunger nationally and at the state and community level. Once again, New Mexico is number one in the nation for childhood food insecurity and tied for fourth nationally for the overall rate of food insecurity. “We’re number one” has never had more tragic implications. But this study provides us with information that can help us change our standings in the national ranking and improve the future for New Mexico children. So what is the Map the Meal Gap, and how can you use it to address the need in your community?
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.
Thanks for asking! We’re a network of five member food banks that provide emergency food support to more than 400 agencies around the state. Our members are: The Community Pantry – Gallup ECHO, Inc. – Farmington The Food Bank of Eastern New Mexico – Clovis The Food Depot – Santa Fe Roadrunner Food Bank – with branches in Albuquerque and Las Cruces Each food bank serves a specific area (see the map below), and we work together as an association to maximize our distribution and buying power. Our main program is the Fresh Produce Initiative. The association purchases truck load quantities of fresh produce from around the country and then distributes it out to our member food banks to supplement their other purchased and donated food. That food then goes out to programs in every county in New Mexico to feed the nearly 40,000 New Mexicans who seek food assistance every week.
As the New Year gets started, many people are looking for ways to eat healthy and maximize their food budget. Here are 13 simple tips to help you do both in 2013: Plan – Plan your meals for the week before you head to the store. See what foods you already have and then make a list of what you need to buy (and stick to the list). Take advantage of resources like the U.S. Department of Agriculture or your local university extension office to find advice and publications on meal planning and budgeting. Research – As part of your meal planning, check newspapers and circulars for sales and coupons. Subscribe to coupon sites like www.CouponMom.com to locate coupons for specific items to help bring down your total grocery bill. Buy in bulk – It’s almost always cheaper to buy in bulk (especially items like meats and frozen vegetables). Just make sure not to buy more than you can store in your pantry and/or freezer to avoid food waste. Be creative – Look for new ways to use leftovers. Use left-over chicken in a chili or soup. Clean out the vegetable drawer and make a veggie stir fry. Throwing away food is like throwing away money! There are a number of websites that can help you find new ways to use leftovers and stretch your food dollars. Think seasonally – Buying fruits and vegetables in season can lower the cost and add to the freshness of what you serve your family. Certain foods are typically low-cost options all year. Try beans as a less expensive protein source in soups and casseroles. Carrots, greens, potatoes, apples and bananas are usually lower priced, fresh options to round out your meals. Eat those seasonal veggies – Make half your plate fruit and vegetables. Diets high in fruits and vegetables can reduce your risk of some diseases, and since they’re high in fiber, they can fill you up with fewer calories than other foods. Use meat as a side – Start thinking of meat as a side dish, not the main course. Fill your plate with fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and then add meat sparingly. Big batches – Prepare a large portion of your favorite recipes and freeze them to eat later in the week. This saves time and makes you less likely to be tempted by expensive take-out on those nights you don’t feel like cooking. Small plates – Since people tend to eat what we put on our plate, starting with a smaller plate can help you with portion control and help you eat less. Eat breakfast – Your mother was right….breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It gives your body and brain the fuel to get started, and it can make you less likely to overeat the rest of the day. Take your lunch – Pack your lunch for work – you’ll eat better and save money (plus you can use some of those leftovers). Make a …