Forty Years of Food Rescue in New Mexico
Thursday, January 2, 2020
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - A New Mexico food bank marks 40 years of operations in Albuquerque in 2020, and says it's serving more people than ever with resources that would otherwise go to waste.
Most of the food rescued by the Road Runner Food Bank is unprepared and includes bakery goods, meat, dairy, produce, canned and dry goods. The food bank's president and chief executive, Mag Strittmatter, said millions of pounds of rescued food are picked up each year from grocery stores, food manufacturers, growers, farmers, wholesalers and others. She said people struggling with food insecurity accept that they have to pay their rent or utility bills, and often choose to go hungry instead.
"So, food is always the one negotiable item that people often go with less than," she said, "and the majority of people we're helping are working."
Hunger often is worse in rural areas because a lack of transportation makes it hard to get to food bank sites. It's estimated that nationwide, 37 million people experience food insecurity, meaning one in 10 Americans is hungry. At the same time, the Trump administration plans to reduce the SNAP or food-stamp rolls by about 700,000 people early this year.
A 2018 study by Hunger Free America found 25% of all children in New Mexico lived in households that can't always afford enough to eat, making the state number one for childhood food insecurity. Because New Mexico is the fifth largest state in the country in terms of geography, Strittmatter said substantial coordination among food pantries is needed to help as many as possible.
"The other day it was cold here, it was 25 degrees," she said, "so people don't wait two and three hours in line for food if they are not in need."
According to FoodRescue.net, more than 40% of the food in America goes to waste, including 50% of all fresh produce that is purchased and later thrown away.
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