Summer Time Stress and Worry

Summer has always been my favorite season of the year.  In New Mexico, it is particularly wonderful as we have fairly mild temperatures and very little humidity. As a child and into my college years, I longed for summer vacation from school. By the time the holidays passed, I was ready for summer.  I would imagine myself at a baseball game, eating a hot dog and enjoying the outdoors. I imagined myself camping with cousins and relatives for our annual family reunion. I longed to be laying by the pool on a hot summer day, maybe followed up by a barbeque. I loved summer so much growing up and it’s still my favorite season (even though I no longer get a summer vacation).

I know this is not the case for tens of thousands of families who live in poverty across New Mexico. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. For struggling families, the summer is a time of dread.  Their children no longer have access to the subsidized school meal programs. This means that struggling parents must come up with a way to provide those additional meals while school is out.

But we did something here at Roadrunner to help alleviate some of the burden summer brings to poverty stricken families in New Mexico. With the help of Feeding® America donor Morgan Stanley, those families struggling to provide extra meals this summer had access to food. Morgan Stanley granted Roadrunner Food Bank $50,000 to fund eight summer feeding sites during the summer months through the week of August 5.  About 62 families have been receiving 50 pounds of food or nearly 42 meals each distribution.  About half of the food they receive every other week is produce.  The eight summer food sites were located in Albuquerque and Las Cruces at schools.

Volunteers Unloading Food at Atrisco Heritage(pictured, volunteers helping unload food from the Food Bank’s truck
at Atrisco Heritage Acadey High School)

Through our Mobile Food Pantry, we were able to deliver food to each of the eight sites bi-weekly during the summer months.  Families whose children attend the eight schools received the food.  We know it is making a difference for the families who receive the food. Recently, we received a thank you letter from a parent participating in the summer feeding program. She writes, “The food boxes I receive are such a blessing and mean the world to me… If it weren’t for programs [like this one] and organizations like Morgan Stanley who are willing to fund these programs, many families would be going without a single meal let alone multiple ones.  Thank you so very very much.”

families waiting in line at Pajarito Elementary to receive their food(pictured, families of Pajarito Elementary waiting for the food distribution to begin)

We know that this program is very important to these families. We also know there are thousands of other families we were unable to serve and the gap in service is wide. We are planning to continue a similar program in 2014. We are currently seeking additional funding to sustain and grow the summer food program, in hopes of closing the gap in service. We’ll be sure to keep our supporters and donors in the loop as things progress. We hope that in the near future, the summer can be a time of fun and joy for ALL New Mexicans.

Donna Marlow is the Strategic Giving Manager at Roadrunner Food Bank.

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