Saving New Mexico’s Food from Waste: An Act of Justice


A recent PBS NewsHour-NPR report highlighted a growing reality across the United States and one growing in New Mexico. According to one of their sources from a 2014 Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) report, “anywhere from 1 percent to 30 percent of farmers’ crops don’t make it to market.” Furthermore, “eighty percent of our water, 10 percent of our energy, 40 percent of our land is used to grow our food.” In New Mexico alone, food waste ranks in thousands upon thousands of pounds each year. Yet, as food waste seems inevitably to be mounting, so are innovative programs to resolve this heaping problem, nationwide and here in New Mexico with Roadrunner.

Fortunately, we at Roadrunner have taken stronger steps to minimize the impacts of food waste. Roadrunner Food Bank’s Food Rescue program picks up unprepared foods weekly at 100 different locations. Food that is picked up as part of the Food Rescue Program includes items such as bakery items, meat, dairy, produce, canned goods and dry goods.

Thanks to the collaboration and generosity of partners such as the Walmart-Distribution Center in Los Lunas (NM), we are able to meet considerably more hunger and nutrition needs for our hungry New Mexico neighbors. Last year, we rescued more than 9 million pounds of fresh produce from going into the waste stream. In total, we rescued more than 21 million pounds of food from the waste stream in 2014. Instead, it can go towards our partner agencies, the kitchen tables of our neighbors, and beyond. Through our mobile food pantries alone, we serviced over 300,000 people in 2014 with much of the food distributed being rescued food.

So, you might be wondering to yourself, “Roadrunner can’t actually distribute out all of your rescued food in time to your clients and partner agencies, no?”

A fair question and depending on when we received recued food, food could already be past its prime by the time it arrives to our warehouse. So, who will take this kind of food?

There is nothing quite like community networking. Over past years, we have worked with pig farmers in Corrales and across the Rio Grande Valley to ship them our past-prime, decomposing produce. As for past-prime meat, we are incredibly fortunate to work with the Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary in Ramah (NM) who can take cuts of beef, chicken, pork, and beyond to supplement the diet of their rehabilitated timber wolf populations.

Ultimately, we at Roadrunner believe that allowing food waste to run rampant is not just an economic or logistical problem. Food waste manifests itself as an injustice to hungry people, here in New Mexico, across the country, across the globe. When we know that nutritious food is out there that could give children, families, and seniors sustenance, we have a duty and a public service to distribute such food to those most in need. Hopefully, this is not only our organizational stance on the issue, but a stance we challenge each of you as individuals and as communities to consider. If food waste presents itself as a grave injustice to our communities, then food rescue presents itself as an opportunity for restorative justice to take root in our communities.

Matthew “Matt” Young is the Communications Coordinator at Roadrunner Food Bank of New Mexico. To share your thoughts on this blog feature or past ones, contact Matthew by leaving a comment directly below; by calling him at (505) 349-8845; or by e-mailing him at

Photo taken by Matthew “Matt” Young, from a June 2015 Walmart-Distribution Center dropoff of several tons of produce to Roadrunner’s Food Rescue Program from Los Lunas, New Mexico.







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