Making Room At the Table: Building Mental Health Through Fresh Produce, Part II

To read the earlier installment of the “Building Mental Health Through Fresh Produce” series, visit our main blog page.

Valerie Gurule, Administrative Assistant at Almas and chief liaison between Almas de Amistad and Roadrunner on food orders stated:

“Previously, the families we serve had been getting processed, lower-nutrition foods because of their limited budget. The services provided at Almas are funded through a federal grant and there is no budget for food. We had few to no options with acquiring healthy foods, fruits and vegetables to meet the need.”

Thus, when Valerie and her colleagues learned about Roadrunner’s food rescue program and how many millions of pounds of fresh produce Roadrunner receives, the incentive to order produce and other fresh food items for the families they serve arose.

Through the day-shelter and distribution relationship with Roadrunner, Almas de Amistad was able to provide a much larger quantity of healthier food options for women and their families. Additionally, Almas began a Nutrition and Wellness Curriculum to assist families with eating healthy on SNAP and a limited budget. In less than a year, personal testimony and clinical data collected on 6-Month Follow-Up Assessments indicated a decrease in reported anxiety and depression among those receiving services at Almas de Amistad. The only significant change to the services provided at Almas during this time was the increased distribution of nutritious, fresh, healthy food received from Roadrunner and providing classes on nutrition and wellness. Having fresh food available daily in the kitchen space at Almas seemed to directly correlate with these positive outcomes.

From late 2014 through early 2015, more than 50 women enrolled for services at Almas. Almas contracts with an outside Evaluator to assess Initial and 6-Month Follow-Up Assessments. He noted during this six-month period more than a 25 percent decrease in depression levels, AND an 18 percent decrease in anxiety levels among women enrolled during this time. These are truly remarkable outcomes in such a short amount of time.

To continue finding out the conclusions & implications of such a study, check out Part III of “Building Mental Health Through Fresh Produce.”

Matthew “Matt” Young is the Communications Coordinator at Roadrunner Food Bank of New Mexico. To comment on this or other blog features, you can comment directly below; call Matthew at (505) 349-8845; or e-mail Matthew at

Photo from L-R of Valerie Gurule (Administrative Assistant), Valerie Gonzales (Clinical Supervistor/Senior Counselor), & Kena Boeckner (Benefits & Outreach Coordinator) from Almas de Amistad-Amity Foundation. Photo taken by Matthew “Matt” Young, June 2015.

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