Thursday, August 22, 2019

Santa Fe, Las Cruces Mayors Oppose Administrative Cuts to SNAP

Mayors Alan Webber of Santa Fe and Ken Miyagishima of Las Cruces are among the 70 mayors who signed this letter.

"On behalf of the US Conference of Mayors (USCM), we are writing to express our strong opposition to the proposed revision of “broad based categorical eligibility”in USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP )published in the Federal Register on July 23, 2019. 

As noted in the proposal’s regulatory analysis,this far reaching executive action will escalate food insecurity and hunger for an estimated 3.1 million individuals -including children, seniors, and people with disabilities in our states,regions and cities nationwide.

Furthermore, this proposal will put children’s health and developmentat risk by removing their access to healthy school meals; and harm our economy by reducing the amount of SNAP dollars available to spur  regional and local economic activity...  Read Full Letter

Monday, August 12, 2019

Grandparents Raising Children and Other Hunger-Related Issues

It's no coincidence that the director of  a food bank and northern New Mexico and the representative of the U.S. Census for Santa Fe and surrounding areas would make the same observation: many  grandparents are raising children, which has a direct correlation to hunger.

On recent trip to Española, Sherry Hooper engaged in a conversation with a local official about demographics in area schools. "Someone told me that 60 percent of the children in Española schools are being raised by their grandparents. Sixty percent!"said Hooper. director of The Food Depot, which covers Santa Fe and a good portion of northern New Mexico. "I knew there were some, but I had no idea there were that many."

Incidentally, the organization Grandparents Raising Grandchildren was created in Española and is supported by Las Cumbres Community Center.

Below is an excerpt of Hooper's talk about hunger in northern New Mexico at Feeding Our Neighbors, a workshop sponsored by the Interfaith Hunger Coalition (IHC) and Temple Beth Shalom.

Many problems are associated with this scenario of grandparents raising children. For one, many seniors or near-seniors are income-limited and already have to make tough decisions like choosing on whether to spend their funds on utilities, medication or food. On top of that, they must take care of all the expenses associated with raising children. The New Mexico state government offers some resources to grandparents who are raising grandchildren.

Marisa Santistevan
From the standpoint of the census, some seniors often won't admit to authorities that they are raising grandchildren for fear that they would lose privileges, such as the right to live in subsidized housing that is limited to people of a certain age. According to Marisa Santistevan, partnership director for the U.S. Census Bureau in Santa Fe, there is the risk that these children living with grandparents will not be counted in the 2020 Census. Among other things, an accurate count would help a state of New Mexico obtain all the resources to which we are entitled. Read more on why the census is important.

Santistevan was  among the speakers at Feeding Our Neighbors. Other presenters included Tracey Enright from Feeding Santa Fe and Rachel White Sternheim, education director at Congregation Albert in Albuquerque and a member of the IHC steering committee. White Sternheim prepared the opening reflection based on Psalm 137 and also spoke about MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger.  Carlos Navarro, convener of the IHC, presented a history of our organization and additional statistics on hunger in New Mexico.

We also offered participants an opportunity to write letters to Rep. Ben Ray Lujan urging him to oppose new administrative rules that would restrict many more families from retaining access to the SNAP program. Ellen Buelow, chair of the IHC advocacy committee, explained that new rules offered by the federal administration would push more than 3 million Americans off food stamps,

We are thankful to Judah Horowitz, social justice director at Temple Beth Shalom, and Rabbi Neil Amswych for hosting our event.

Judah Horowitz

Tracey Enright

Ellen Buelow

Workshop participants

Thursday, August 08, 2019

Eid al-Adha: A Common Call to Faithfulness

The Lighthouse of New Mexico, a partner congregation of the Interfaith Hunger Coalition, has invited the local community to join in the celebration of Eid al-Adha, an Islamic festival to commemorate the willingness of Ibrahim (also known as Abraham) to follow Allah's (God's) command to sacrifice his son. The scripture account connected with this festival is common to the Muslim, Jewish and Christian traditions. In the Holy Q'uran, the verse can be found in Surah 2 Al-Baqarah, Ayat 127-129.  In the Judeo-Christian scripture, the account is found in Genesis 22.

To observe this holiday,  many Muslims make a special effort to pray and listen to a sermon at a mosque. They also wear new clothes, visit family members and friends and may symbolically sacrifice an animal in an act known as qurbani. This represents the animal that Ibrahim sacrificed in the place of his son.  

Here are details of The Lighthouse celebration.

Monday, August 05, 2019

Hunger Workshop in Santa Fe This Sunday

Feeding Our Neighbors

Sunday, August 11 
2:30-4:30 p.m. 
Temple Beth Shalom 
205 E Barcelona Rd, Santa Fe, NM 87505 

• Learn about food insecurity facing thousands of families in Santa Fe and elsewhere in New Mexico 
• Find out how you can help local families in need, and engage in effective advocacy 
• Connect with the Interfaith Hunger Coalition and learn how you can join with other faith communities to address hunger in our state 

Sherry Hooper, Executive Director of the Food Depot 
Tracey Enright, Vice President, Feeding Santa Fe 

Please bring one or more non-perishable food items to donate to local needs. Sponsored by the Interfaith Hunger Coalition and Temple Beth Shalom

For more information, contact Carlos Navarro, or Judah Horowitz,

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Intergenerational Summer Reading: Two Books on Hunger

Art Simon and Phyllis Vos Wezeman have the same message for different audiences in books that were published recently. As a society, we have the ability and resources to end hunger, particularly if we address structural inequalities.

Vos Wezeman, a religious educator, tailors her message to children (5-10 years) in her book Petra's Pier Picnic (Acta Publications, 2018) The book is illustrated by Oscar Hoyo, a native of Malawi, who lives in Chicago.

Simon, who released Silence Can Kill: Speaking Up to End Hunger and Make Our Economy Work for Everyone (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2019) at Bread for the World's Advocacy Summit in June, makes the case that we can end hunger and poverty as a society if we take intentional steps to address economic inequities.

I am fortunate to have autographed books from both authors. I've known Art Simon since the early 1980s, and getting his signature on my book at the Bread Advocacy Summit is very meaningful.  Vos Wezeman was in Albuquerque on the weekend I was in Washington for the Bread events, so I didn't get to see her.  However, a very thoughtful friend purchased a copy of Petra's Pier Picnic and had her sign it for me. 

Here are excerpts from the two books.

Petra's Pier Picnic

"Catch anything?" Petra asked the people on the pier, offering each of them a jelly worm.  

Have you been throwing your fish back too?" Petra asked the couple on the pier. 

"No, this is the only one we caught," answered the man.

"Your'e gonna need more than that if you want enough for supper," Petra replied.

The woman looked at Petra. "We were hoping to catch enough fish to feed us for a week."
"Wow! You must really like fish," said Petra

"Well, they're better than going hungry!" responded the woman. 

Silence Can Kill
Siging a book for Kimball Forrester
Simon, founder of Bread for the World, has written half-a-dozen books dealing directly with hunger and poverty, including Bread for the World,  The Rising of Bread for the World: An Outcry of Citizens Against Hunger. Grace at the Table: Ending Hunger in God’s World (co-authored with David Beckmann). Faces of Poverty and Harvesting Peace: The Arms Race and Human Need.

In May of this year, Reps. Cheri Bustos and Mike Bost of Illinois introduced a resolution in Congress honoring the accomplishments of Art Simon. “Under Art Simon’s leadership, Bread for the World helped establish programs that have improved nutrition and reduced mortality for children in the U.S. and worldwide. He taught hundreds of thousands of people of faith that citizen advocacy is an important aspect of discipleship; as the title of his new book explains," said the resolution.

Here is an excerpt from Simon's book:

When we appeal to our nation's leaders for an end to hunger, we are implicitly asking for a stronger and just economy that serves the good of all...

As long as 40 million Americans live in food-insecure households, while an overlapping 40 million live in poverty and additional millions a notch or two above them struggle to stay in place, the need of a more vigorous, inclusive economy is apparent. 

A Plan of Action
The great thing about the two books is that Simon and Vos Wezeman offer a plan of action.

In her book, Vos Wezeman offers these suggestions to children

  • causes of hunger including conflict and war, distribution, economics, farming methods, land use, natural disasters, political conditions, poverty, waste, weather conditions, and more
  • differences between myths and realities of hunger
  • distinguishing true information from false statements
  • local programs that address hunger such as soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and food pantries.
  • community gardens, gleaning sites, and co-op food programs
  • food drives for hunger causes such as disaster relief, backpack programs, and neighborhood assistance. 
  • awareness campaigns about the results of hunger like malnutrition, school dropout, and health risks. 
Here is what Simon proposes in his book,
US public opinion is split about whether hunger and poverty are more attributable to structural inequalities or dysfunctional behavior. But rather than argue about how the fire started, let's agree to put it out. We could tackle both structural inequalities and behavior rather than addressing only one or the other. Doing so would bring liberals and conservatives together for an effective plan of action. 

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Rick Steves Addresses Structural Poverty, Climate-Smart Agriculture

I innovated a way for me to be a more ethical travel company by giving myself my own carbon tax...I'm creating a portfolio...What I want to do is empower development in the hungry be able to develop in a way that would not be impactful in a negative way to climate change....  -Rick Steves, travel writer and television host
Rick Steves was a surprise guest speaker at the Bread for the World Lobby Day reception on June 11. Steves happened to be in Washington lobbying Congress on another topic, and by coincidence found himself on Capitol Hill on the same day that a few hundred Bread advocates were meeting with their members of the House and Senate to advocate for global nutrition initiatives.

So Steves, a very close friend and supporter of Bread for the World, came to our reception.  His presence was serendipitous because it gave him a chance to tell us more about the television special on hunger that he plans to release later this year, entitled Hunger and Hope: Lessons Learned from Ethiopia and Guatemala.

Ending Structural Poverty
"I went down there not to do a tour show on Ethiopia and Guatemala...We didn't even go to the famous places..We can use those countries as a classroom for why there is poverty," Steves told dozens of people gathered in the  It's structural. Bread for the World tackles the structural underpinnings of poverty and hunger."

As an example, Steves mentioned the global debt relief campaigns, that Bread and other organizations supported in 2000. "Bread for the World spearheaded this. We led the way in forgiving the debt of the more heavily indebted nations on this planet.  That's structural poverty. And we took away that bit of structural poverty."

Climate-Smart Agriculture
In his comments at the Lobby Day reception, Steves spoke of the need to take climate change seriously when creating development programs for poor countries. 

"I want to empower development in the hungry world, to be able to develop in a way that is less impactful in a negative way to climate change. There are a lot of desperate people in desperate countries, that just to live, they have to deforest,  they have to abuse their soil."

Steves spoke of the need to develop "climate-smart agriculture," which would allow people to produce food and at the same time not contribute so much to the carbon problem on the planet.

To this end, Steves has pledged $200,000 for Bread for the World to support climate-smart agriculture in the hungry world. He is raising these funds by giving himself a carbon tax applied every time he travels to Europe or other destinations to produce his popular programs. Steves outlines his commitment in an article on his website.

This video contains about six-plus minutes of Steves' comments at the Lobby Day reception.

Monday, June 17, 2019

The Bread Activist Universe (Advocacy Summit 2019)

The trip to Washington for the Advocacy Summit was not only about lobbying Congress to support Global Nutrition resolutions, which are the subject of our 2019 Offering of Letters. The trip was about reunions with people I knew from Bread. Some attended the Bread activities, one participated in the CARE conference, and others just live in the Washington area. Here are some selfies and regular photos of those reunions.
Dawn Buller-Pierce (Idaho)

Angie Ruprock-Shaefer (Indiana), Derick Dailey (New York)

Brendan Rice (Washington, D.C.)

Daniel Erdman (Pennsylvania, formerly Albuquerque)
David Miner (Indiana), Beth Lepiniski (Wisconsin)

Art Simon (Maryland), Kimball Forrester (Alabama)
Kimberly Burge (Washington, D.C.)

Megan Mayle (Colorado)
Suzanne Farris, Tessa Farris (Maryland)

Suzanne Stigler Martin (Alabama)
Bud and Barbara Miller (Florida)

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Advocating on Capitol Hill for a Global Nutrition Initiative

Recognizing the importance of sustained United States leadership to accelerating global progress against maternal and child malnutrition and supporting United States Agency for International Development's commitment to global nutrition through its multi-sectoral nutrition strategy. H.Res.189

Earlier this year, Rep. Roger Marshall (R-Kansas) and Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Massachusetts)  submitted House Resolution 189 (H.Res.189). The measure was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and also to the Committee on Agriculture

In the Senate, Republican Susan Collins and Democrat Chris Coons of Iowa put together a similar measure, which had not been assigned a number as of Lobby Day.

The Resolution is closely linked with Bread for the Worlds' Offering of Letters, Better Nutrition, Better Tomorrow.

Lobby Day
On June 11, Lobby Day, Bread for the World members met with aides (and sometimes with actual legislators) to urge them to cosponsor the two initiatives, and some cases to thank them for already having done so.

On Lobby Day, I met with Mary Nugent at Rep. Debra Haaland's office and Jake Jackson at Rep. Xochitl Torres Small's office (and dropped a package of information by Rep. Ben Ray Lujan's office) to urge their bosses to cosponsor the resolution.

In the Senate, I met with Adriana Mares and Blair Hammond at Sen. Martin Heinrich's office, and with Clint Cowan at Sen. Tom Udall's office. I asked that our senators cosponsor the Collins-Coons resolution, which did not have a number as of that date.

In all my visits, I handed aides letters that were written by members of Central United Methodist Church. The letters created a real connection with constituents back home.

Stay tuned for updates and follow-up action, including visits to the local offices.

Upper Left to Right: Jake Jackson, Blair Hammond, Andrea Mares. Lower Left to Right:Mary Nugent, Clint Cowan

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Our Fourth Annual Iftar with the Albuquerque Turkish Community

It has become a wonderful tradition. Every year during the month of Ramadan, the Turkish community in Albuquerque, via the Dialogue Institute of the Southwest and the Turkish Raindrop House, invites the Interfaith Hunger Coaltion to share an iftar meal on Thursday, May 30. After a full day of fasting, Muslims around the world gather to share a meal to break their fast.

Necip and Rabia Orhan and members of their community have done a wonderful job or reaching out to various congregations, organizations and civic groups in Albuquerque to join with them in this meaningful meal. There are several opportunities during the Ramadan season to do so. For example, the Albuquerque Baha'i community joined in the iftar on May 8.(Of course, not every iftar is shared with folks outside their community, but many of these meals are used as an opportunity for community building and sharing of the Muslim traditions).

This year, the Dialogue Institute and Turkish Raindrop House have invited us to join in their fast-breaking meal on May 30,  beginning at sundown (about 7:30 p.m.) This is the fourth time in which we have broken bread together.

If you have not already signed up for some of the other opportunities, please join us that evening.  RSVP for May 30 on the Eventbrite site set up for the occasion. (And if you are unable to join us on May 30, by all means please register for one of the other dates).  For our own counting purposes, please also send a note to Carlos Navarro, with your name and the number of people in your party. This is only for the May 30 iftar.

We hope to see many of you there.

Sunday, May 05, 2019

A Tiny Piece of God

Via Sojourners 
verse of the day
Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? - 1 Corinthians 3:16

voice of the day
Yes, it could be that I am a tiny piece of God, and each of you too, or at least of his intention and his hope.    - Mary Oliver

prayer of the day
God of hope, may we see you in all who we encounter this day. May your love flow in handshakes and embraces, over cups of coffee and broken bread, in places near and far from our earthly homes. Amen.

Friday, May 03, 2019

New Mexico First in Child Hunger (Again!)

Graphic from Feeding America
Six years ago, the Map the Meal Gap report published by the national anti-hunger organization Feeding America ranked New Mexico first in child hunger and second in food insecurity.  The report conclusions were based on statistics for 2011.

Since then, our state has continued to rank near the top of the list. (While those rankings are useful to put the problem into perspective, I contend that our focus should be on how we compare with past years, and not necessarily how we compare with other states).

Nevertheless, the latest Map the Meal Gap report, announced by Roadrunner Food Bank locally this week, offered a stark reminder of how much work remains to be done to address the problem of hunger in our state. The 2019 Map the Meal Gap report (based on statistics for 2017) again ranked our state number one child hunger. Regarding, general food insecurity, our state was fourth, compared with second in the 2013 report.

Graphic from Feeding America
Percentage of Hungry Children
In terms of numbers, the Map the Meal Gap report found that more than 118,000 children under 18 in our state suffered from hunger in 2017, or about 24 percent of our total number of kids in our state. Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas had higher numbers of hungry children than New Mexico, but they represented a smaller percentage.

“We’re number one has never had more tragic implications," Roadrunner Food Bank said regarding our top ranking on child hunger.  "But this study provides us with information that can help us change our standings in the national ranking and improve the future for New Mexico children.  So what is the Map the Meal Gap, and how can you use it to address the need in your community?"

The Map the Meal Gap report is also useful in providing hunger data by county. McKinley County, which includes Gallup, had the highest percentage (26 percent) of residents (18,920) who were food insecure in 2017. The largest actual numbers of hungry people were found in Bernalillo County (100,000), but that is because Albuquerque is our state's most populous community.That total represents almost 15% of the county's population. San Juan, Luna, Catron and Cibola Counties also had high percentages of residents who are food insecure. Here is the table for all New Mexico Counties. (This is the general link. Click on New Mexico to find our state's data).

In covering the Map the Meal Gap report, the Albuquerque Journal correctly pointed out that poverty is a major factor behind our state's hunger rates. Quoting statistics from New Mexico Voices for Children, the report said 27 percent of children in our state live in poverty, which ranked our state 49th nationwide, tied with Mississippi.

The Interfaith Hunger Coalition Responds
When a group of us first decided to create the Interfaith Hunger Coalition in 2013, our impetus was the 2013 Map the Meal Gap report. At that time, we noticed there was no place for faith communities to come together hold a conversation on how we could come together to address this pervasive problem. So we held our first Hunger 101 consultation at First Presbyterian Church.

Our purpose in coming together was not to resolve the overall problem of hunger, but to discuss and propose ideas on how to address the problem in various ways, including education, advocacy and support for direct-service efforts. This is spelled out in our mission statement.

We continue to promote conversations on hunger via our Hunger 101 workshops, which we have held at Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Catholic Church, the Jewish Community Center, Congregation Albert, and the Albuquerque Baha'i Community. We also recently sponsored a hunger focus group, which was partly a effort begin a conversation among food pantries and other food providers.

On the legislative front, we have worked with legislators to create a mechanism to address hunger in New Mexico on a broad and long-term perspective. House Memorial 65 in the 2019 legislative session reaffirmed the existence of a Hunger Council and provided for the creation of a bicameral and bipartisan Legislative Hunger Caucus to look at specific ways in which hunger can be addressed via the legislative process.

The process of ending hunger in New Mexico will involve many changes to structures, including addressing poverty and the needs of rural and Native communities, working families, seniors and children. But we now have the tools to continue the conversation and to propose legislation.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

The Challenges of Finding Food in Albuquerque

Thirteen people from various congregations and organizations came together on a Saturday morning to discuss the challenges faced by food pantries in Albuquerque to find food. We also discussed some of the good things that are in place. Kathy Freeze from Catholic Charities of Central New Mexico led us in the discussion. Participants included members of  The Albuquerque Baha'i Community,  Central United Methodist Church, Congregation Albert,  First Presbyterian Church,  The Islamic Center of New Mexico, Our Lady of the Most Rosary Catholic Community, Roadrunner Food Bank, St. Andrew Presbyterian Church, St. John XXIII Catholic Community, St. Vincent de Paul Pantry at St. Joseph Parish, The Storehouse. Others who had intended to come but were unable to attend belong to Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, The Lighthouse of New Mexico and La Mesa Presbyterian Church.

Stay tuned for more detailed findings of our discussion as well as opportunities to follow up and bring others into the conversation.

A. Sarah Rahman from the Islamic Center of New Mexico

Our small group discussions were divided by the region of the city where we live or serve

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Legislators Speak Out in Favor of Hunger Council and Hunger Caucus

We noted in a blog post a couple of weeks ago that House Memorial 65 had received wide bipartisan support in the New Mexico House of Representatives. HM65, which was introduced on March 5, reaffirmed ongoing efforts to address hunger (and poverty) in New Mexico in the broadest way possible and to consider long-term solutions to this problem that has afflicted our state for so long.

The hunger council was created during the 2018 legislative session (via House Memorial 90), and HM65 requests that he council "continue its work on a single, statewide plan for ending hunger in New Mexico."  This year's memorial also requests the formation of a "hunger caucus to support legislation aimed at ending hunger in New Mexico."

We have transcribed the specific comments from representatives of both parties who spoke in support HM65 on the House floor on March 5. The full House approved the memorial in a unanimous vote. 

You can watch the proceedings in this video posted on the State Legislature's website, The portion of the session dealing with HM65 is about 24 minutes, starting at 12:53:09 p.m. and ending with the vote at 1:17:28 p.m.

Here is a lightly edited transcription. We have added links to organizations or programs that some of the legislators mentioned in their comments.

At about 12:53 p.m. on March 5, the House clerk read the full text of HM65. The reading was followed by an introduction of members of the Hunger Council, who have been working on this effort for a couple of years by Rep.Joanne Ferrary and Rep. Rebecca Dow, lead sponsors of the memorial.

Ellen Buelow (Interfaith Hunger Coalition), Joy Dinaro (Interfaith Hunger Coalition), Carlos Navarro (Interfaith Hunger Coalition), Brenda Sinfield (Interfaith Hunger Coalition), Allison Griffin (Collari Communications Global), Alissa Barnes (Roadrunner Food Bank), Eva Gonzales (AARP-New Mexico), Patty Keane (UNM Prevention Research Center), Mag Strittmatter (Roadrunner Food Bank) and Amber Wallin (New Mexico Voices for Children), were recognized.

These legislators stood up to express support for HM65.

Rep. Andrea Romero, Santa Fe (Santa Fe County)
I began my career in food security, working in Mozambique Africa (Project RX) moving into D.C. at the International Food Policy Research Institute. As we well know, hunger doesn't just mean not having access to food, caloric food. Communities in New Mexico often are not just food deserts, but have an inability to access nutritious food. That means you can get a bag of chips, or you can drink a soda, but that doesn't mean that you're getting the quality of food that you need to sustain, to think well, to thrive and to live a good live.

I was so fortunate to grow up with my mom and my dad who cooked in the kitchen, who knew the difference between different vegetables, and we were able to have a garden and to really understand where it came from. And I think it's so important that we're connecting the dots with everyday hunger needs, not just for that which is food, but for that which is nutritious foods, and teaching not only our parents but our kids how to be able serve themselves sustainably with the food we have available. New Mexico could be and should be the breadbasket for the United States. So many of us are working on this from an agricultural perspective. This is just so exciting coming together to support this important legislation.

HM65 Co-Sponsor
Rep. Karen Bash, Albuquerque (Bernalillo County) 
You will find in your place an apple with an explanation of malnutrition attached to it. And also a plate that the apple is sitting on. And these plates were made for us by children. I would like to read the plate that is in my place. My plate is written in pencil, and it says, "I need a food backpack for home because we run out of food. We don't have food stamps and have about 10 people in our house." So there are many children throughout New Mexico who are in this situation.  I rise in support of this memorial.

Rep. Bill Pratt, Albuquerque (Bernalillo County)
I rise to remind the members that diet has a very important impact on health and health care costs. Poor diet means poor health. A better diet means better health and lower health care costs.

(Note: Dr. Pratt has been a physician and orthopedic surgeon for 50 years).

HM65 Lead Sponsor
Rep. Rebecca Dow, Truth or Consequences 
(Grant, Hidalgo, Sierra Counties)
I want to stand up and say a special thank you to Roadrunner Food Bank. They make such an impact across the state. And if your community is like my community, when the Roadrunner Food Bank truck arrives, people are lined up around the building and fill the inside of the building to get the 20 pounds of free food. And it really does go a long way to getting fresh nutritious foods into the homes in our communities.

I also want to mention our senior meal sites across the state. They are so critically important. And to thank our senior members who established those and have been advocates of those. I knew they were important before I ran for office: the companion programs, the foster grandparent programs, going and seeing the seniors working out in the fitness center, and in the computer lab, and just camaraderie and the relationships that were built from the senior meal sites.

It wasn't until I was campaigning, and I was knocking and doors that I realized what it it really meant for food security for our most vulnerable seniors. A little 90-year old lady invited me into her home to show me her refrigerator and her pantry, and to tell me that that meal came from a senior meal site, and that it was a home delivery, and that person who delivered that meal to her was her friend.

(Campaigning in) the next block, someone who is bedridden with no extended family would tell me how important the senior meal sites were to them and they had no other way to have food delivered to them, and the person that delivered the food was their friend.

I just want to thank the many members of this body who have been advocating for our senior meal sites. I hope that we find a solution during this session to make sure that these are viable and remain available in our communities. (Note: The New Mexico Aging & Long Term Services Department offers this partial list of sites that provide home-delivered meals as well as locations where seniors can go for meals).

Rep. Gail Armstrong, Magdalena 
(Catron, Socorro, Valencia Counties)
I too rise in support of your memorial. Myself and Sen. (Liz) Stefanics have carried legislation (SB84) for gardens for senior meal sites and for New Mexico grown fruits and vegetables to get into our senior meal sites. I rise in support of feeding New Mexico, from children to the elderly and everyone in between.

Rep. Candy Spence Ezzell, Roswell (Chavez County)
I'm in full support of this. We have to be very cognizant that we in America, and in our state, have people that are hungry. I kind of feel like a slob at times whenever I note that I have plenty of food in my pantry, and in my freezer and in my refrigerator, and there are some that don't...I want to commend the efforts of Pastor Mark Green (Harvest Ministries) in the Roswell area. He is fantastic.  I have worked with him on several projects regarding this. I get calls from my constituents all the time, saying "hey, there's a family living such and such and know that they are in dire straights right now."  I know that all I have to pick up the phone and call Mark Green, and he does follow through.

We have a group of women in the Dexter-Hagerman area called Loaves and Fishes that do the same thing. In our rural areas especially, it is very important that people that are aware of those that are hungry.  It's also very important for me that our senior centers are also able to feed our elders. Sometimes, that may be the only meal they get that day--either tat our senior centers or through the meals on wheels project.Take a look around you, let's help those who are hungry, let's help those kids that are going to bed on an empty stomach. We need to be very cognizant of the fact that there are those in need in our state, and it makes me very sad.

HM65 Co-Sponsor
Rep, Liz Thomson, Albuquerque (Bernalillo County)
I just want to stand up and talk about the people who are frequently affected by this, and it's our seniors, our kids and people with disabilities. Frequently those are the people that are on very, very fixed incomes. My son has social security disability, and luckily he has us. What he gets in a month is a little over $700, and if you think about of a place to live and food and everything else on $700 a month, it doesn't go very far. I think back a few years ago when we had a (Cabinet) secretary who said "there is no hunger in New Mexico." She was wrong. She was very wrong.  I wish she wasn't. But she was. As long as we have people in power saying things like that, we're never going to make any progress...

Even if you don't see hunger, it is all around you. People (might) say, "she's really overweight, she can't be hungry." That's not true. The cheapest foods are the most fattening foods. Because someone may be overweight doesn't mean that they are eating the right foods, that they're getting enough to eat. They're eating what is filling. And I will tell you a quick story--our governor, when she was in DC (Congress),  took the SNAP Challenge. We talked during that time. She said she had eaten more ramen during that time than she did even when she was in college. If you've been to DC, you can't buy anything for under $10.  It's great that we have someone on the fourth floor who has lived with the SNAP diet and knows how really diffficult that is.

Rep. Randal Crowder, Clovis (Curry County)
I rise in support of your memorial. I will tell you that I have had probably more calls and more work to help get funding back to our community to help pay for  senior meals than almost anything in my past four years. I think a lot of our citizens get their best meal of the day when  they go to the senior site to get their meal. I have been through there many times, and there's literally hundreds of people there. We have one senior site in Clovis.

I really appreciate you bringing this forward. Hopefully, we will be able to get the funding all straightened out for all our senior sites, and have adequate funding for meals for our seniors and for our home delivery services. I really thank you for bringing this forward.

Rep. Phelps Anderson, Roswell (Chaves, Lea, Roosevelt Counties)
I rise to support this resolution. I think New Mexico for far too long has had hunger as part of our our social economic cultural fabric.  I salute you for bringing this memorial to the front because we're all here to do good work. The work we do could not be better in this area, or more important.

HM65 Lead Sponsor
Rep. Joanne Ferrary, Las Cruces (Doña Ana County)
Thank you everyone for your comments and all of the memorial sponsors. We had mentioned the SNAP Challenge. (There is a copy) on your desk. If you'd like to take it--probably once you get home because we're all so busy not getting to eat anyway. This SNAP Challenge is something that I think makes everything become real to us.

Also, there is an invitation for all of our members to join the Hunger Caucus. We didn't get to reach to everyone before we printed this, we wanted to get everyone to realize how important this is. Please join our caucus as founding members.

I just wanted you to know that the Senate this morning has also cast the same memorial. Thank you to our volunteers who have put in so much of their time to support their communities, and working with distributions, with food banks and seniors, and it's just wonderful the work that you've done. I move (for approval) of House Memorial 65  And I ask for unanimous consent.

We are in final passage of House Memorial 65.
The vote is now open  
The vote is now closed by a vote of 70 in the affirmative and zero in the negative.
House Memorial 65 has passed the house.

Note: We are still in the process of compiling the names of the representatives and legislators that signed up for or committed to be part of the Legislative Hunger Caucus. We will post a list at later date.