Sunday, April 30, 2017

Hundreds Participate in People's Climate March in Albuquerque

Rain fell during the opening prayers... and began to taper off during some of the presentations. Sure, it was a tiny bit of an inconvenience. However, we were reminded by some of our speakers of that very important truth (especially for us in New Mexico) that water is life.  Hundreds of people participated in this walk to save Mother Earth and protest the policies of the new federal administration and the current state government.

We were here to protest efforts by the big energy interests to exploit Big Mountain, Standing Rock and Chaco Canyon. The fight continues to prevent fracking in the Dine/Navajo lands near Chcaco Canyon. A handful of speakers spoke about their participation participated in the actions at Standing Rock.

And the Marchers Chanted...

Two Four Six Eight / Why don’t we appreciate / Mother Earth, Mother Earth / Climate Justice Now

You can run but you can’t hide, Solar energy is bonafide

Sol not Coal

Hey Hey Ho Ho Dirty Coal Has Got to Go

People shout from miles around, keep dirty coal, in the ground

Hey Susana be a leader, let’s make New Mexico energy cleaner

No nukes, no coal; solar is the way to go

Clean Energy - Green Jobs

Messages of Hope and Action (for Us and for Our Children)

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Margaret Atwood: Environmental Protection is an Anti-Hunger Action

In honor of today's People's Climate March, we share this quote from author and environmental activist Margaret Atwood. The main march will take place in Washington, D.C. However, there are hundreds of marches scheduled around the world, including this one in Albuquerque 

When you destroy...when you degrade somebody's environment, you make them poorer. When you refuse to take steps to reverse climate change, you are therefore endorsing more floods, more famines, more extreme weather conditions, more droughts, and all of that is going to have an impact on the world food supply, particularly in areas that are already challenge. So when you're impacting the food supply you're also impacting people's livelihoods and what is available to them. And you're also creating more unrest and wars. And I'm not the only person who says that. The Pentagon says it. It says climate change is one of the biggest threats to world peace

- Margaret Atwood (excerpts of an interview with Sojourners)

Friday, April 28, 2017

FRAC, NPR Cover New Mexico's Hunger-Free Students Bill of Rights

The Food Research and Action Center recently launched its redesigned website. There are several important features about the new site: it is attractive (with beautiful and relevant graphics) and easy to navigate, and the information is much better organized and easy to find.

Three links are particularly useful for advocates engaged in addressing issues and initiatives related to domestic hunger and nutrition: Legislative Action Center, Hunger and Poverty in America, and Obesity and Health.

The site also puts a strong emphasis on the work of advocates in each individual state through a link that lists important State Partners.

Here are the groups listed for New Mexico
Farm to Table New Mexico
New Mexico Voices for Children
New Mexico Appleseed
New Mexico Association of Food Banks
The Food Depot
The New Mexico Center on Law & Poverty

Hunger-Free Students Bill of Rights
Photo: Education Votes (National Education Association)
One of those partners, New Mexico Appleseed, contributed information to FRAC about the The Hunger-Free Students’ Bill of Rights, (SB374), which passed the Senate in a 30-7 vote in March. The measure was later approved unanimously in the state House of Representatives. 

“Children whose parents or caregivers owe money for school lunch will no longer have to miss meals or face public embarrassment in front of their peers,” said Jennifer Ramo, executive director of New Mexico Appleseed. “No child should be forced to wipe down cafeteria tables or throw away a meal because of a debt. We’re urging Governor Martinez to make New Mexico a leader in the fight against child hunger by signing this first-of-its-kind legislation.”

“This bill draws a line in the sand between the student and the unpaid school meal fees that their parents or guardians owe, oftentimes because they cannot afford to pay on time,” continued Ramo. “Many children count on school meals for the nutrition they need to be able to learn and thrive in the classroom.”   Read full article in FRAC's website.

The national media also picked on this issue. National Public Radio featured one the initiative's supporters: Sen. Michael Padilla.

When New Mexico state Sen. Michael Padilla was a child, he says he mopped the cafeteria floors to earn his school lunch, and he befriended the cafeteria workers so he wouldn't have to go hungry. "I grew up in foster homes, multiple foster homes," the Democratic lawmaker tells NPR's Rachel Martin. "It's very obvious who the poor kids are in the school."

He says students in circumstances like his often have to watch as other children get served a hot lunch, while they are given a piece of bread — with "maybe a little bit of cheese." Read Full NPR Article   The Associated Press and The New York Times also covered the issue.

State of the States: New Mexico's Discouraging Statistics
The New FRAC website also provides data for each state through a link entitled State of the States Here is a summary  in the site:

FRAC’s State of the States: Profiles of Hunger, Poverty, and Federal Nutrition Programs – available for every state and for the nation as a whole – is designed to provide basic data as one tool to help states measure how they are doing in the effort to get key public nutrition programs to meet the needs of hungry people and improve the health and economic security of low-income families.

The data provided describe the extent of hunger and the use of nutrition programs, giving a snapshot of how well or badly each state is doing using the latest available data. The data can be used to encourage states and communities to improve policies and practices that would expand the reach of the federal nutrition programs.

Download your state’s profile (pdf) (Demographics, Poverty and Food Insecurity; Federal Nutrition Programs; State Economic Security Policies).
View the national profile.

The site provides a PDF link with statistics for each state, including New Mexico
Here are some of our statistics:

Demographics, Poverty and Food InsecurityTotal People 2,085,109
Children (Under Age 18) 499,416

 Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-New Mexico
Median Household Income $45,382
Rank Among States (Best to Worst) 46
Total People Living In Poverty 417,834
Poverty Rate 20.4%
Rank Among States (Worst to Best) 2

Children (Under Age 18) Living In Poverty 141,053
Child Poverty Rate 28.6%
Rank Among States (Worst to Best) 2

Total People Living Below 185% of Federal Poverty Level 796,357
Number of Households that are Food Insecure (2013-2015, 3-year average) 116,757
Percent of Households that are Food Insecure (2013-2015, 3-year average) 14.4%
Number of Households that are Very Low Food Secure (2013-2015, 3-year average) 46,290
Percent of Households that are Very Low Food Secure (2013-2015, 3-year average) 5.7%
Percent of Households Struggling Against Food Hardship (2015) 17.8%

View the full set of statistics

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Catholic Archdiocese Supports Santa Fe's Proposal to Tax Sugary Drinks to Fund Early Childhood Programs

Wikimedia Commons
The Santa Fe City Council recently voted to put a sweetened beverage tax of 2 cents per ounce to a vote by city of Santa Fe residents in May. The tax, if passed by voters would invest in Pre-K education for children in Santa Fe, closing a funding gap for parents who are not always able to afford Pre-K.

(Santa Fe-based food activist and author Mark Winne expressed his own thoughts about the food movement and soda taxes in a blog post on March 8, 2017).

The Archdiocese of Santa Fe, which has jurisdiction over Santa Fe and Albuquerque, came out in support of the soda tax. Here is a statement released by the archdiocese.

(April 19) The Archdiocese of Santa Fe endorses the proposed soda tax by the City of Santa Fe in order to fund early childhood programs. New Mexico ranks number one in the United States for children living in poverty and second highest for children living in hunger. Because of the New Mexico State Senate’s lack of action to fund early childhood programs, municipalities are left with few choices.

The soda tax is a good attempt to address the dire conditions in which our children are living. In good conscience, we cannot let our children stagnate in the plight they are in, with some of the worst wellbeing outcomes in the nation. Until the New Mexico State Senate passes the constitutional amendment for early childhood, municipalities must seek funding for essential programs.

The very same business associations that opposed the constitutional amendment for early childhood, which is not a tax, now oppose a tax to fund these children's programs. The business associations leave no option. We must put our children first. If the State fails to address this, then we commend municipalities for taking action to address the wellbeing of our children.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Santa Fe Food Activist 'Disinvited' from Arizona Conference

The anti-hunger and community food security folks in New Mexico are quite familiar with author and activist Mark Winne. He speaks his mind, and he challenges us to look at the big picture (and sometimes urges us to examine our preconceived notions). He has spoken out on topics like food deserts, community food systems, class-related disparities in our approach to nutrition, and the incomplete and inadequate approach to addressing hunger in New Mexico.

Given his expertise in community food systems, it was a natural step for our neighbors in Arizona (specifically the Arizona Food Marketing Alliance) to invite Winne to address the Arizona Food Summit. (Sharon Thornberry, rural communities liaison for the Oregon Food Bank and a member of Bread for the World board directors, was also invited to speak at the summit).

A few weeks after the invitation was issued, Winne was disinvited from his speaking engagement. But it wasn't the Arizona Food Marketing Alliance that made this decision. It was the Arizona Department of Agriculture . He tells us why in a post in Mark's Food Policy Blog. Here is an excerpt followed by the link to the full post.

On February 23rd, I received an email from Tim Thomas of the Arizona Food Marketing Alliance asking me to speak at the Arizona Food Summit on April 28th. I enthusiastically accepted the invitation and participated two weeks later in a lengthy planning call with other speakers and conference organizers. I even bought an airline ticket for Phoenix.

On April 12th, I got a call from Laura Oxley, a staff member at the Arizona Department of Agriculture, one of the Food Summit’s sponsors. Speaking in a trembling, but practiced bureaucratic voice, Ms. Oxley told me that I was officially disinvited from speaking at the summit. According to her, some of my website’s industrial agriculture and GMO references over the past few years had offended the Arizona Cattlemen’s Association, the Arizona Farm Bureau, and her department’s director. She told me that one of the cattleman was a “third-generation rancher, and the department’s director is a fifth-generation rancher…and they think that your presence at the summit would be divisive and prevent some members of Arizona’s agriculture sector from attending.”

Read full post

Sunday, April 23, 2017

An Experiential View of Laudato Si

In his encyclical, ‘Laudato Si,’ Pope Francis insists that addressing the problems of pollution is not enough.

The Pope says, “There needs to be a distinctive way of looking at things, a way of thinking, policies, an educational program, a lifestyle and a spirituality which together generate resistance to the assault of the technocratic paradigm.”

This morning with Sr. Dianne Bergant is devoted to an exploration of this “distinctive way of looking at things,” through presentations, experiential/ spiritual practice, discussion, and Question and Response time.

April 29, 2017, 9:30 a.m.-Noon
Norbertine Spirituality Center
Santa Maria de la Vid Abbey
5825 Coors Blvd. SW, Abq.

For more information call  505-873-4399 of visit the Santa Maria de la Vid website.

No registration needed. Free-will offerings are greatly appreciated.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

On the Radio

I was fortunate to be the guest on the Archbishop's Hour Radio Show hosted by Mary Woods, which aired on Tuesday, April 18. The show, sponsored by the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, features a variety of guests speaking on a variety of topics. I spoke about Bread for the World, the Lumen Ecclesaie Award I received from the Dominican Ecclesial Institute on March 26, the evolution of the Interfaith Hunger Coalition and my work as managing editor at the Latin America Digital Beat (LADB) at UNM.  Mary sent me a link to the show, which I uploaded to my account on the Kiwi6 site. The actual interview begins at about the 21st minute.
Listen Here

Friday, April 21, 2017

Human Services Department to Hold Hearing Next Friday on Proposed SNAP Changes

The New Mexico Human Services Department (HSD) has proposed new regulations for participants in the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in our state.

HSD released its proposed changes in a document presented to the public for comments.  A hearing will take place on Friday, April 28, 9:00 A.M.-12:00 p.m., at the Department of Health Harold Runnels Building Auditorium, 1190 St. Francis Drive in Santa Fe. (map)

As with any document, the language is bureaucratic and cumbersome. So, the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty examined the proposal and offered these conclusions. Let's start with the Positive Points about the proposed changes.
  • Clarifies the amount of time folks are entitled to benefits once approved. Also clarifies reporting requirements,
  • Simplifies the immigrant eligibility requirement
  • Establishes only a voluntary employment and training program.
Okay, that's the good news.

Here are the Negative Changes in the new proposal, including regulations for immigrant families and work requirements.

Immigrant Families
  • Eliminates important information about immigrant eligibility
  • Eliminates critical limitation one when Income Support Division (ISD) workers can call the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency to report undocumented immigrants.
SNAP Work Requirements
  • Indicates that the state will institute a 3-month limit on SNAP for employed adults as soon as June 1, 2017--the language says this will happen unless the state has a waiver in place. The regulation does not state whether the State of New Mexico will or will not implement a waiver. This is illegal. Policy decisions that impact folks outside of the Human Services Department must be put into regulation with notice and opportunity for the public to comment. The current draft permits state to decide whether or not to implement the time limit and have no public notice requirement. 
  • The employment and training program that is available does not include sufficient programming so that if the state had to implement the 3-month limit on SNAP, there are no training program that folks could access in order to keep SNAP.
Speak Out
If you want to make your voice heard on this matter, please attend the hearing in Santa Fe a week from today.  To get on the list to testify, call (505) 827-7254.

You can also send written comments by e-mail to The deadline for e-mail comments is April 28, 2017, at 4:30 p.m.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Join Us at People's Climate March on April 29

The Interfaith Hunger Coalition is one of the endorsing organizations of The People's Climate March on Saturday, April 29, at Washington Middle School Park, 1101 Park Ave. SW, at 10:30 p.m. (Check out our logo at the bottom of the flyer below) Our partner, New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light and the Sierra Club are among the organizations that are taking a direct role in planning the event, which will include an interfaith prayer, speakers, a march and a Healing Circle Event organized by the Pueblo Action Alliance (PAA) at 804 Park Ave SW. There will be Pueblo style menu and other activities at the PAA event.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Poets, Musicians Help Raise Funds for Immigration Advocacy Coalition

A cellist, a pianist, a guitarist, a percussionist and several poets will perform at a fundraiser for the New Mexico Faith Coalition for Immigrant Justice on Saturday, April 29, 7:00 to 9:30 p.m. at First Unitarian Church, 3701 Carlisle. The event, entitled Stand with Immigrants!, will honor the social justice work of Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino. Donations accepted at the door via cash, check or credit card or online.

Monday, April 17, 2017

An Easter Donation

Photo: Galloping Grace Youth Ranch
Roadrunner Food Bank had about 1,500 pounds of packaged pork products to distribute to hungry families in New Mexico for the Easter season. The meat was donated by Galloping Grace Youth Ranch (GGYR), a nonprofit organization that educates children about ranching, farming, and sustainable practices through experiences raising livestock and growing crops on a working ranch. The Easter donation is part of the 2,000 pounds of packaged protein that GGYR has pledged to donate to local hunger-relief organizations this year (and on annual basis).

The meat is produced from livestock raised on the ranch and ispart of GGYR’s Junior Leadership and Food Recovery Educational Programs.

Sustainable Practices
The food recovery program, supported by the Albertsons grocery chain, collects fruits and vegetables that have begun to lose their freshness and can no longer be used for human consumption. GGYR also captures spent grains from a local brewery as part of their Food Recovery program.  Youth leaders in GGYR’s Junior Leadership Program feed the collected food to the livestock on the ranch, diverting it from the local landfill. Read about "The Journey of Our Food as Seen by a Banana."

Photo: Galloping Grace Youth Ranch
In 2016, GGYR diverted over 1 million pounds of food waste. When the livestock produced at the ranch are ready to be processed for consumption, GGYR donates it to local hunger-relief organizations like Roadrunner Food Bank.

The efforts of GGYR form part of the solution to address hunger in New Mexico. "Our goal to be able to donate 100% of the food we produce to local food banks for the purpose of feeding food insecure children and their families."

Read more about GGYR founders Max and Michelle Wade.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

A Prayer for Peace

The "Mother of All Bombs" is the nickname for the bomb the U.S. dropped Thursday on Afghanistan, but our guests in Kabul say civilians there are asking if any mother would conduct such an attack. -Democracy Now, April 14, 2017 
The Urban Way of the Cross in Albuquerque on Good Friday 2017 began with a prayer for peace. This was a last-minute addition--a response to the U.S. government's decision to deploy the the most powerful non-nuclear bomb ever released in the history of the world in in Nangarhar Province in Afghanistan.

Larry Gallegos and Anne Hanke led the congregation in singing The Prayer of St. Francis. Rev. Susan Allison-Hatch then followed with a prayer.

The prophet Jeremiah writes about the leaders of Israel, “They heal the brokenness of the daughter of My people superficially, Saying,'Peace, peace,' But there is no peace. 12"Were they ashamed because of the abomination they had done? They certainly were not ashamed, and they did not know how to blush”

"Jesus, we stand with you at the Cross and we remember the victims of those who knew not how to blush. Forgive us for our complicity in acts of terror, for the moments we kept silent, for the time we turned away, for the times we turned away from the pain our silence enabled. Embolden us to speak out against the injustices done in our name: bombs dropped, refugees turned back, aid programs cut. Comfort those who mourn, surround those whom  fear now stalks with your tender love, strengthen our resolve to work for justice, to live with kindness, and to strive for peace as we follow you through this day and every day. Keep us ever mindful of your faithfulness and open our eyes to see your mercies which are indeed new every morning."

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Urban Way of the Cross, Eighth Station: Defenseless Against Hunger

Urban Way of the Cross 2017
If there is among you anyone in need, a member of your community in any of your towns within the land that the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hard-hearted or tight-fisted towards your needy neighbor. You should rather open your hand, willingly lending enough to meet the need, whatever it may be. Deuteronomy 15:7-8
 "There are some things in place that our country has going for us, even in times like this.  Places like where I work: Roadrunner Food Bank. Places like Rio Grande Food Project...But we also have social safety nets. These are government programs. These are our fist line of defense against hunger.  They're not the best. They need to be improved upon rather than cut. Nonetheless, they are still there and they can help out a little bit.  -Jason Riggs, SNAP Outreach Coordinator, Roadrunner Food Bank
God of the creation: We pray for daily bread...” with the full expectation that the day begins with a healthy choice from a pantry full of good things to eat. Remind us of the millions for whom breakfast may very well be the only meal of the day. -Rev. Michael Livingston

Thursday, April 13, 2017


Photo: Wikimedia Commons
I bet most of you have never heard of the word pedilavium. 

This is the word used for the holy ritual of washing feet, which is closely associated with Holy Thursday or Maundy Thursday in the Christian tradition.

 The religious act of foot-washing, however, is also practiced in Islam and Sikhism as part of ritual cleanliness. Within these religions, purity in worship is very important. Furthermore, in the predominantly Hindu culture of India, touching the feet of others is seen as a sign of respect.

"Within Christianity, the practice derives from the scriptures of the New Testament (John 13:1-15; 1 Timothy 5:10) in which Jesus tells his followers to wash-each others' feet as a sign of humility and brotherhood. In fact, Jesus himself, washes the apostles' feet to exemplify humility and servitude," said the New World Encyclopedia

Photo: Steelbridge

Day of Honor on Saturday 
Many churches will incorporate some sort of foot-washing ritual in their services this evening. For the Steelbridge community (formerly Albuquerque Rescue Mission), the washing of the feet will take place on Saturday, April 15, as part of its Day of Honor event, which will be held at the partner organization The Rock at Noonday  (2400 2nd Street NW).

Here is what Steelbridge says about its event:

We all fall down sometimes. We all encounter trials and difficulties. And in those times, we can curl up in despair—or we can partner with those who will provide strength, encouragement, and hope.

A Day of Honor is a special day set apart to be that outstretched hand; a steady support so you can stand back to your feet.

There will be a celebration of music and ministry, foot washing, free shoes & socks, hygeiene items, and special gifts for children, as well as a special Easter banquet in the afternoon.

The Day of Honor Celebration begins at 9am at The Rock

The Day of Honor Banquet begins at 4pm - also at The Rock

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

A Tribute to Allen Touissant at the 2017 French Quarter Festival

In 1985, music legends Allen Toussaint and Aaron Neville brought together a group of New Orleans musicians to perform a concert that would benefit the hungry and homeless in the city. From that concert was born New Orleans Artists Against Hunger and Homelessness (NOAHH). Touissant frequently participated in fundraisers for the organization, often bringing in renown artists like Paul Simon. The organization developed into a successful nonprofit organization that annually presents concerts and gala celebrity mixers to raise funds to help alleviate hunger and homelessness in the metro New Orleans area.

In 2013, NOAHH honored Touissant's achievements by celebrating his 75th birthday in a grand way.  Allen Touissant died two year's later in November 2015.

The Grammy Trustee Award recipient and inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall certainly made his mark both as as a great humanitarian and as an ambassasor for New Orleans and its music.

Shannon Powell, one of Touissant's close friends and a great New Orleans musician in his own right, took the opportunity to celebrate the musical contributions of this great icon of the Crescent City.  Here is a video of the tribute near the end of Powell's set at the French Quarter Festival in New Orleans in 2017