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NM Food Bank Reports Pandemic-Induced Record for Food Distribution


Thursday, July 15, 2021   

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The COVID-19 pandemic is waning, but its devastating impact has changed just about every aspect of normal life, including levels of food insecurity.

New Mexico's largest food bank knows first hand, having distributed 20 million more pounds of food this fiscal year than the previous.

Sonya Warwick, communications officer with Albuquerque's Roadrunner Food Bank, said the state's high poverty rate makes people more susceptible to food insecurity, but many families needed help for the first time during the pandemic.

"We anticipate that that need will continue," said Warwick, "because when you're brand new in a food line - especially for people who'd never been using our services before - we expect that people are going to continue to struggle with basic needs."

Warwick said the food bank normally distributes about 40 million pounds of food annually, but the year-long pandemic pushed it to a record-breaking 60 million pounds.

Most food is unprepared and includes bakery goods, meat, dairy, produce, canned and dry goods. That allows staff and a fleet of semi trucks to collect it from grocery stores, food manufacturers, growers, farmers and wholesalers for redistribution.

Warwick added that people always can contribute by donating food, time and funds and volunteering to help people navigate the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to receive needed benefits.

"While we have seen decreases in the numbers of people visiting," said Warwick, "the need is still very much there and has not returned to what we would call pre-pandemic levels by any means."

Research by social scientists found that at the height of the pandemic, the average person tended to spend more per trip at grocery stores to stockpile food and prepare for food shortages.

But food-insecure individuals could not prepare in the same way because of constrained budgets likely due to job loss.

Disclosure: Roadrunner Food Bank contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Hunger/Food/Nutrition, Poverty Issues, Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.

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