Wednesday, November 25, 2020

NM Prioritizes CARES Act Resource to Address Hunger

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Yesterday during the Special Session, the House and Senate supported critical resources for New Mexicans.  “This $300 million relief package will help families, communities, and businesses across the state—and the inclusion of $5 million in funding for food banks will help to provide meals to thousands of families struggling to put food on the table,” said Representative Stansbury. “We are so incredibly grateful for the work the food banks, pantries, shelters, and meal programs across the state do to help feed New Mexicans. And we are especially thankful this relief is coming in time for the holidays.”

Mag Strittmatter, President and CEO of Roadrunner Foodbank reacted to the Special Session saying, “This Special Session was extremely significant for Roadrunner Food Bank and our four partner food banks. We will all be able to acquire the many millions of meals needed to help the growing number of food insecure neighbors in the state, while in the throes of this pandemic. We are so grateful to all who helped make this possible!”

“On behalf of the five New Mexico food banks, I thank our legislators for acknowledging the increased need for emergency food assistance by approving $5 million for food bank services,” said Sherry Hooper, executive director of The Food Depot and President of the New Mexico Food Banks Association. “During the special session, legislators demonstrated their concern for hungry New Mexicans and their commitment to ending hunger in our state during this pandemic.”

"The fact that this special assistance received such broad bipartisan support is a sign that New Mexicans are working together to address the immediate hunger needs of the people in our state," said Carlos Navarro, convener of the Interfaith Hunger Coalition.

Representative Ferrary from Las Cruces, a long-time advocate for addressing food insecurity described her own reaction, “I too am so thrilled and relieved to know NM really does care about making sure we can reach every child, family and senior through the extensive distribution and outreach that the Foodbanks and food pantries have set up across the State! We need to continue this support as well as other policy recommendations identified by the Food, Hunger, Water and Agriculture Policy Group.”

New Mexico First invites all interested stakeholders to participate in the Food, Hunger, Water, and Agriculture Policy Workgroup. To learn more and find minutes from previous meetings, please follow this link. The Teams tab has information about meeting days/times. 

Friday, November 20, 2020

ICNM Sisters Food Project Schedule for November-December

Background Information for Anti-Hunger Efforts in New Mexico

 From New Mexico First and the The Food, Hunger, Water, Agriculture Policy Workgroup

  • Pre-pandemic New Mexico had the highest child hunger rates in the nation. 1 in 4 children in New Mexico are struggling with hunger. Our elders are not faring much better.[1] These numbers are even higher during the pandemic with rural and frontier counties hardest hit.
  • From late March through April 2020, the two largest food banks in New Mexico spent $1.2M and $450K on purchased food to respond to the increasing demand for support from the emergency food sector. Over 85% of Food Bank funding is from private philanthropy and individual donations.[2]
  • A significant majority of New Mexico's counties have food insecurity at rates greater than the national average.[3]
  • Most families participating in SNAP in New Mexico have one or more household members that are employed.[4]
  • Unemployment in New Mexico as of September 2020 was 88,844 people or 9.3%, while average unemployment was 7.9% in September for the US as whole. [5],[6]
  • While agriculture is a major economic driver in the state, over 95% of the food New Mexicans consume comes from out of state, and nearly all food produced in New Mexico leaves the state. A stronger local food system would simultaneously help combat food insecurity and hunger while keeping more dollars in our local communities.[7]
  • Rates of food insecurity and hunger in New Mexico reflect the need for cross-sector approaches.
Therefore, our policy priorities are to:
  1. Strengthen local food production and distribution.
  2. Increase state investments in the emergency food sector.
  3. Increase the monthly food budget for families of low-income
  4. Use an equity lens to make sure that the needs of all are considered within the context of community and culture.
Presentation to the Legislative Education Study Committee (LESC): December 18
Please plan to support by viewing the meeting at and/or submitting public comment.
For a list of committee members, click here.
More information will be shared as it becomes available.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

A Southwestern Town Hall with Bread President Eugene Cho

The recording opens with devotions by Rev. Deborah Hutterer, bishop of the Grand Canyon Synod of the ELCA, followed by an introduction to Rev. Cho by Lupe Conchas, Bread's Southwest regional organizer, then a personal story and remarks by Rev. Cho, then a Q&A section featuring both pre-submitted and impromptu questions by representatives from Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. 





Anti-Hunger Advocacy Initiatives


Protecting Important Programs

The Interfaith Hunger Coalition has two important missions: education/programs and legislative advocacy. Most of our earlier e-mails have provided details on our Zoom programs and a Hunger 101 Workshop held during the summer. This e-mail offers updates on important state and federal legislative proposals.

Setting Priorities in New Mexico
The New Mexico Food and Agriculture Policy Council, an endorsing organizational partner of the Interfaith Hunger Coalition, submitted this letter to the Economic and Rural Development Interim Committees of the New Mexico State Legislature requesting support for and expansion of the New Mexico Grown Fruits and Vegetables for School, Senior and Early Childhood Meal Programs; Double Up Food Bucks (SNAP) Expansion; Healthy Food Financing Initiative; and, Soil Health and Conservation Programs. The letter was signed by representatives of NMFAPC affiliates Farm to Table, La Semilla, Agricultura Network, Center for Health Innovation, New Mexico Farmers Marketing Association, and Soil Health Working Group.

The NMFAPC (along with the IHC) is among the participants in the statewide Food, Hunger, Water, Agriculture Work Group, which is crafting a broad legislative initiative (similar to the federal Farm Bill) that would address different but converging anti-hunger hunger actions. This is a process that has evolved from frequent Zoom meetings during the summer. The goal is to have a piece for the upcoming 2021 Legislative Session. Stay Tuned.

Reps. Melanie Stansbury, Anthony Allison and Joanne Ferrary make the case for a comprehensive and long-term approach to address hunger in New Mexico in this opinion piece published in The Albuquerque Journal on Sunday, October 18

New Legislators

According to the New Mexico Secretary of State's election results site, nine new senators and nine new representatives were elected to the New Mexico State Legislature on Nov. 3.Tara Lujan had been appointed to fill out the term of Rep. Linda Trujillo, so technically she was already a part of the Legislature. Also, Marian Matthews won election to her seat for the first time. She was appointed to finish the term of the late Bill Pratt. We won't include her in the list because she has already served in both the regular and special 2020 sessions.The race between incumbent Willie Madrid and challenger Ricky Little was extremely close and could be subject to a recount.

In the Senate, Greg Schmedes won election to his seat after serving in the House. Here is the list of the newly elected legislators, with the name of their predecessor in parenthesis.

Senate: Brenda McKenna (John Sapien), Martin Hickey (William Payne), Joshua Sanchez (Clemente Sanchez), Siah Correa Hemphill (Gabriel Ramos), Katy Duhigg (Candace Gould), Harold Pope (Sander Rue), Carrie Hamblen (Mary Kay Pappen), Crystal Diamond (John Arthur Smith), Greg Schmedes (James White).
House: Meredith Dixon (Abbas Akhil), T. Ryan Lane (Paul Bandy), Brittney Barreras (Art de la Cruz), Stefani Lord (Greg Schmedes), Luis Terrazas (Rodolpho Martinez), Roger Montoya (Joseph Sanchez), Kristina Ortez (Daniel Barrone), Ambrose Castellano (Tomas Salazar), Tara Lujan (Linda Trujillo).

Several legislators who in one way or another supported the informal Legislative Hunger Caucus or promoted important anti-hunger legislation won reelection: Reps. Melanie Stansbury, Joanne Ferrary, Rebecca Dow, Phelps Anderson, Gail Armstrong, Anthony Allison, Karen Bash, Natalie Figueroa and Sens.Bill Tallman, Liz Stefanics, Michael Padilla and Nancy Rodriguez. Rep. Willie Madrid, who was co-sponsor of an important school lunch initiative. apparently won reelection by a very tight margin, but the results are likely going to a recount.

Protecting Federal Programs
The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) last week released its Summary of Transition Priorities, proposing the first steps needed to build the public and political will to end hunger in America. They include urgent actions and long-term investments. The actions seek to strengthen and expand SNAP, child and school nutrition, and senior programs. In the long term, FRAC proposals focus on jobs, wages, social security supplemental income, housing and health care.

AFSC to Host Farm to Food Stamps Workshop
The American Friends Service Committee-New Mexico invites the public to learn how local entrepreneurs you can feed their community and expand their business by accepting SNAP. The workshop, scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 19, 5:00 p.m. is taught by South Valley farmer Casey Holland, who will take you step by step through the process. AFSC staff will support your farm with follow up so that you can provide your food to more of our community through the SNAP/food stamp program. Register in Advance.  See the Facebook Event
Join the Interfaith Hunger Coalition!
We invite congregations and organizations to endorse the Interfaith Hunger Coalition. The endorsement does not imply any financial contributions, just a commitment to partner with us to address hunger in New Mexico. Here is a list of our current endorsers (25 congregations and 30 organizations). Download the endorsement form and attach in an e-mail to


Friday, October 30, 2020

The Challenge of Feeding Our School Children

School Meals for APS Students

The pandemic has created special  challenges for  school districts around  the country to provide school  breakfasts and lunches to our children. In New Mexico, the Albuquerque Public Schools  System shut down schools in the spring while continuing providing meals. Meals were provided at designated sites during the summer break.

At the end of the summer, it became apparent that the schools would not be able to reopen for the fall semester. So the schools once again resorted to a mostly remote model.

Online Presentation on November 9
So what steps did APS take to ensure that students continued to have access to food during the fall semester?

On Monday, November 9, 6:30 p.m., the Interfaith Hunger Coalition will host an online presentation to answer this question. Our featured presenter is APS Food and Nutrition Services director Sandra Kemp, who will discuss the district’s program for student meals. She will share statistics on meals served, food service staffing at schools and more.

Additionally, Melanie Lewis, Community School Coordinator  for three elementary schools along Central Avenue (Lew Wallace, Eugene Field and Longfellow) and a member if the IHC education committee, will share stories about families and a monthly mobile food pantry that serves the three schools.

Participants will have the opportunity  to ask questions.  

To join the Zoom presentation, please send a note to or indicate "going" on our Facebook event

We will send you a Zoom link a few days before the event.

Sisters Project Distributes Food, Other Items Every Other Week
This week we highlight the work of one of our newest endorsing partners, the Islamic Center of New Mexico's Sisters Food Project, which distributes food to neighbors every other Saturday at the mosque, located at 1100 Yale SE in Albuquerque. The next distribution is scheduled for tomorrow, October 31.

Tentatively, subsequent distributions will be held on November 14 and 28. Each distribution is preceded by a food drive the prior Friday. Check on the ICNM Sisters Food Project Facebook page for more details on needed donations, confirmation of dates and other updates.

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted and multiplied a preexisting condition in Albuquerque: Food Insecurity. As Muslims it is our obligation to make sure our families and neighbors do not go hungry.

The sisters have established a food and hygiene product distribution program, not only for the Muslim community, but for the Albuquerque community at large. Since April 2020, distribution has been Biweekly, and serves an average of 70-100 families.

This program is completely supported by volunteers, sponsors and community members.

Mark Your Calendars
Reflections Around the Election, Nov. 3 & 4
Two opportunities for spiritual reflection in the midst and the aftermath of the national and state elections.
-Circles of Silence: Standing for Peace
Persons of faith and persons of good conscience will gather with the intention to hold space for peace and strength amidst post-election reactivity,  in groups of five (5), wearing face-coverings, standing 8 feet apart
Parking Lot of St Thomas of Canterbury Episcopal Community, 425 University Blvd, NE
Nov. 3, 5:30-6:30 p.m. (Bring a Candle)
Nov. 4   8:30-9:30 AM,  1:00-2:00 PM  5:00-6:00 PM (Bring a Candle)
Sign Up  (Nov. 4 only)  For questions, contact Pastor Jeanine at

-Community Prayer Walk, Nov. 4, 1:00-3:00 p.m.
Hosted by St. Andrew Presbyterian Church, 5301 Ponderosa NE

Walk the Labyrinth in Silent Prayer for the Common Good.  All traditions welcome to join this silent prayer walk. This is a COVID-safe, outdoor event. Bring a mask, hat, water bottle, and practice social distancing. Questions? TXT Rev. Susan J. Quass at 505-290-7661.
Monday, November 9, 7:00 p.m.
Food Security and Hunger Initiatives in New Mexico
A webinar sponsored by the New Mexico Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Presenters include Stephanie Rogus (New Mexico State University) and  local nutrition expert Patty Keane  Free but advance registration is requested Register in advance  You will receive a confirmation e-mail.

Saturday, November 14, 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Feed & Clothe Our Neighbors Drive
Members of  St. Paul Lutheran Church's Outreach will be at the church, 1100 Indian School Rd. NE, to accept your drive-through donations of canned and non-perishable food for The Storehouse and your donations of gently used or new warm clothing for ABQ FaithWorks.  See Facebook Event

Tuesday, November 17, 2020 6:30 p..m.
Bread for the World Southwest Region Virtual Town Hall
Rev. Eugene Cho, recently installed as president of Bread for the World, will present a 15-minute message, followed by questions by six faith leaders in the region, which includes New Mexico, Texas, Arizona and Oklahoma. The event will be then opened to questions from participants.The IHC is a co-sponsor of this event. Participants are encouraged to submit their questions in advance in the space provided at Eventbrite checkout. Learn more about the event and about Rev. Cho.  Contact regional organizer Lupe Conchas, for more information.

Thursday, December 3, 2020  10:00-11:30 A.M.
New Mexico Voices for Children KIDS COUNT Conference
This is the third of a series of three sessions. The series aims to lift up strategically and intentionally anti-racist policy reforms to improve child well-being and to address the impacts of COVID-19 and the current recession on children and families in New Mexico. This pre-legislative session will focus on the policy issues relevant to defending and promoting equitable access to a cradle-to-career education for New Mexicans, especially during the 2021 session and in light of the recession  Tickets are $25 per session 

Join the Interfaith Hunger Coalition!
We invite congregations and organizations to endorse the Interfaith Hunger Coalition. The endorsement does not imply any financial contributions, just a commitment to partner with us to address hunger in New Mexico. Here is a list of our current endorsers (25 congregations and 31 organizations).. Download the endorsement form and attach in an e-mail to


Sunday, October 18, 2020

Op-Ed: Legislators Promote Need to Address Food, Water Insecurity

There is nothing more basic to life than food and water. And, yet, here in New Mexico we have among the highest rates of hunger in the country and communities that are without access to water. It is hard to imagine in the 21st century that food and water insecurity continue to have such a profound impact on our state. That is why we must take decisive action during the upcoming Legislative session to address the food and water needs of our communities. 

Copyright © 2020 New Mexico First, All rights reserved.
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Reps. Melanie Stansbury, Anthony Allison and Joanne Ferrary make the case for a comprehensive and long-term approach to address hunger in New Mexico in this opinion piece published in The Albuquerque Journal on Sunday, October 18. The publication of the piece is appropriate, coming just two days after the global commemoration of World Food Day.

Rep. Stansbury and Ferrary have worked with a broad coalition to promote an omnibus bill that would look at all aspects of hunger in our state. Rep. Allison was one of the co-sponsors of a Legislative Memorial that supported the creation of Legislative Hunger Caucus

The effort to bring diverse voices to the solution to address hunger in New Mexico has been both challenging and rewarding. The task was complicated further by the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, which greatly increased the demand for food and created massive unemployment in our state. "Throughout this time, New Mexicans have risen to the occasion. Neighbors have helped neighbors, grassroots and mutual aid organizations have stepped in, and major investments have been made by nonprofit and philanthropic donors to help weather the storm," the three legislators said in the opinion piece. "The state’s five food banks and hundreds of sister agencies have mobilized on a massive scale, and farmers and ranchers have donated untold amounts of food."

Rep. Melanie Stansbury
And yet, despite the need to greatly promote legislative initiatives to address immediate needs, the coalition comprised of hundreds of organizations and coalitions has not lost sight of the long-term goal, which seeks not only to ensure adequate access to nutritious food for all the residents of our state. This means looking at all aspects of hunger, including root causes like poverty. One goal is to ensure that federal and state anti-poverty and nutrition-support programs like school meals  and SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) reach all eligible residents. There is also need to support agricultural producers, especially small-scale farmers. And in the process of supporting farmers, we need to look at related factors like water, healthy soil and infrastructure.

House Chamber 2019 Session
"To address the food, hunger and water issues that are impacting our communities we must take decisive action. That is why our workgroup is drafting a Food and Farm Bill for the upcoming legislative session, as it is essential to supporting the economic recovery of our farmers and addressing the basic food and water needs of our families," said the opinion piece. 

The participation of legislators in the effort is broad. Even though three legislators authored the opinion piece, the coalition enjoys strong participation and input from members of both political parties and from all regions of the state. 

The partnership between civil society and the State Legislature (and the executive branch) is an important step towards beginning the process of ending hunger in New Mexico. "For nothing is more fundamental to life, to culture, to our economy, and to the well-being of our people than access to food and water. Please help us shape and support this critical legislation and support your local food banks and farmers," the opinion piece concluded.

Friday, October 16, 2020

World Food Day Guide

Thank you for observing World Food Day 2020 with us in New Mexico. Please refer to this guide before, after and as you view the compilation of stories and prayers we offer to you this day. The stories promote food and agriculture sustainability and/or recognize efforts by a faith community or organization to provide special assistance or adapt operations to meet the increased needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. In between these stories, we have powerful prayers and blessings from faith leaders around the state.These stories and prayers are listed in the order in which they appear on the video. The main presenter is listed in parenthesis. View the video 

Greeting and Introduction to World Food Day Chant, David Poole & Keri Sutter

 AFSC Farm to Food Bank (Sayrah Namaste). At the start of the pandemic, AFSC launched the Farm to Food Bank Project in New Mexico to connect small-scale farmers with food banks struggling to meet rising needs during the pandemic. AFSC purchases much-needed food from small organic farms and delivers it directly to pantries in Taos, Albuquerque and  Española    Donate to Farm to Food Bank Program

Shared Table/El Pueblito United Methodist Church in Taos (Rev. Cheri Lyon). Shared Table is a community outreach food assistance program of El Pueblito United Methodist Church. Food distribution occurs on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays from 11am-12 noon at El Pueblito United Methodist Church and from 2pm-3pm at the Talpa Community Center. Donate to Shared Table

Prayer: Hon. Regis Pecos. The former governor of Cochiti Pueblo begins his prayer/blessing in his native language and then offers an English-language translation.

World Central Kitchen-Santa Fe Community College (Robert Egger) World Central Kitchen, led by world famous chef and humanitarian Chef José Andrés, partnered with Santa Fe Community College to help feed communities in New Mexico experiencing food insecurity during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring and summer. Robert Egger coordinated WCK's operations in New Mexico. One of the communities that received food and other assistance during the early days of the pandemic was Kewa Pueblo. The initiative was supported by SFCC Foundation. Robert Egger suggested donations to Santa Fe Youth Works

World Food Day Chant, Keri Sutter and David Poole

Rio Grande Food Project in Albuquerque (Ari Herring)  This is the largest food pantry on Albuquerque’s west side. Since 1989, RGFP has worked with community members to prevent and end hunger among children, adults, and seniors throughout the Albuquerque metro area by providing low-income households with needed groceries. The pantry supplements its food donations with produce from its garden located on site. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the pantry set up operations offsite. RGFP resumed drive-through distributions at its site during the summer. Donate Money, Food, Time to Rio Grande Food Project

Prayer: Mercury Bitsuie, Diné Community Volunteers  A blessing song. My Mother Earth is Beautiful. My Grandparents Taught Me Well.

The Forgotten People (Marsha Monestersky) & Water Resources Action Project  (Malcolm Siegel) Thousands of Dine’ (Navajo) and Hopi households haul water from distant wells. Lack of water is even more critical during the COVID-19 pandemic, when tribal communities are being impacted at one of the highest rates in the nation. The Water Resources Action Project (WRAP) and The Forgotten People (a grassroots organization based in the Navajo Nation in Arizona) have created a unique partnership to address this pressing need. The video includes video excerpts from Vanishing Prayer and VICE News - Cursed by Coal, mining the Navajo Nation and photos by Barbara Davidson Donate to Dine'(Navajo)/Hopi Emergency Water Project

The Baháʼí Community of Gallup (Rosanne Groger-Bathke, Kee Bathke). In response to the COVID-19 concerns within the Gallup area and the Navajo Nation, the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of Gallup formed a task force to support the K'é Social Action Project, a grassroots initiative whose goal is to reach those most in need in the area. Bahá'ís seek to serve mankind through various activities at the local community level.The K'é project (pronounced "keh", a Diné word, meaning "system of kinship) is compatible with the principles of the Baháʼí Faith, which is the Oneness of Humanity. The Bahá'í assembly in Gallup is part of the worldwide Baha'i Community,which believes in Baháʼu'lláh--translated as The Glory of God. Send Donations to K’é Social Action Outreach Navajo Nation/Humanitarian Effort-Relief  PO Box 1822, Gallup NM 87305

Prayer: Rev. Bre Roberts (Luther House, UNM-CNM)

St. Felix Pantry in Rio Rancho (Rachel Miletkov) For nearly 30 years, the pantry has provided a safety net for people struggling to support their families in times of crisis in Rio Rancho, Sandoval County and other nearby communities in New Mexico, providing food, education, and referral services free of charge. The need for these services has grown in relationship to the COVID-19 crisis. St. Felix is the only food pantry in Sandoval County that allows vital weekly access for its guests  Donate Time, Food, Money  to St. Felix Pantry

M.T.O. Shahmagshooudi School of Islamic Sufism-Albuquerque  (Maziar Saleh Ziabar) This Albuquerque school, which has been here in the Duke City for 32 years, is part of a global non-profit charitable organization. Because of Sufism's emphasis on the teacher-student relationship, the heart of moral training in Sufism is education. Equally important is the value of charity, and Sufi teaching also emphasizes material provision for the needy. During the COVID-19 outbreak, the Albuquerque school launched a campaign to support front-line workers and local vulnerable populations. Free Instagram Live Tamarkoz® meditation sessions are offered multiple times a day live with recorded sessions available to help with the mental health response to COVID;  Support the School's Charitable Activities

Prayer: Rev. Bethany Meier, First Christian Church of Las Cruces

Think Like a Bee (Anita Amstutz):  A grassroots organization that, well, quite frankly, tries to think like a bee. What do bees need to stay healthy? What can we do to support their hard work as pollinators? How can we learn from their highly collaborative social structures in the hive? How can we work together with other pollinator protection groups, beekeeper associations, faith communities, neighborhood and civic organizations, and agriculture for healthy pollinator practices, habitat and a sustainable food system for the future? Donate to Think Like a Bee

Closing Prayer Rabbi Rob Lennick, Jewish Federation of New Mexico  A Prayer for Our Children 

World Food Day Chant, Keri Sutter and David Poole

Other Donation Opportunities: Surgite: A Sacred Dance Company, Roadrunner Food Bank  (Central & Southern New Mexico), The Food Depot (Santa Fe & Northern New Mexico),  ECHO Food Bank (Farmington/Four Corners), The Community Pantry (Gallup), Food Bank of Eastern New Mexico (Clovis)

World Food Day Planning Team
Producer Carlos Navarro
Artistic Contributions: David Poole, Keri Sutter, Winona Poole
Production Consultants: Etti Behar, Ellen Buelow, Joy Dinaro,
Erik Ehn, Jeanne Elmhorst, Kathy Freeze, Leora Jaeger-Siegel
Melanie Lewis, Judy Messal
, Rachel Sternheim
Special Thanks
Deborah Boldt, Santa Fe Community College
Kathi Cunningham, Rio Grande Food Project
Doreen Gallegos, Santa Fe Community College
Virginia Garcia, St. Felix Pantry
Sherry Hooper, The Food Depot-Santa Fe
Gabriela Marques, Albuquerque Baha'i Community
Sister Mary Angela Parkins CSSF
, St. Felix Pantry
Arielle Siegel  Nina Robins  Karen Navarro
Tzu Chi Buddhist Foundation
UNM Department of Theater and Dance

Join the Interfaith Hunger Coalition
We invite congregations and organizations to endorse the Interfaith Hunger Coalition. The endorsement does not imply any financial contributions, just a commitment to partner with us to address hunger in New Mexico. Here is a list of our current endorsers (23 congregations and 30 organizations). Download the endorsement form and attach in an e-mail to

Saturday, October 03, 2020

Watch for Our World Food Day Video

Keri Sutter and David Poole  (Photo Winona Poole)

This year our interfaith World Food Day commemoration will be slightly different than in past years. Instead of coming together in a church, synagogue or temple, we are celebrating together online with a video we think you will like very much. The video will be posted on World Food Day, Friday, October 16, on multiple sites.

A part of our online event will be very familiar. David Poole will teach and perform a song he composed for our World Food Day events in recent years, and Keri Sutter from Surgite Sacred Dance Company will show us the hand movements that accompany the song. David and Keri, with help from Winona Poole, recorded this portion in the open space of the Albuquerque North Valley.

One of our themes is similar to those in past years: to promote food and agriculture practices that protect the right to food for future generations. The global campaign is entitled Grow, Nurish, Sustain.Together. In our video, we will hear from Think Like a Bee, which underscores the importance of bees to our future food production and from the Water Resources Action Project, which tells us about efforts to bring life-sustaining water to portions of the Navajo and Hopi Nations.

Assistance during the Pandemic
Our celebration also recognizes the local organizations and faith communities that have helped mitigate hunger and food insecurity during this time of quarantine. AFSC Farm to Food Bank tells us how the organization has supported local agricultural producers while providing assistance to pantries and food banks in New Mexico. Among those receiving assistance from the AFSC program is Shared Table/El Pueblito United Methodist Church, which tells us about the increased need in the Taos area during the pandemic, and how clients continue to be served.

The Rio Grande Food Project in Albuquerque and St. Felix Pantry in Rio Rancho also describe how they adapted their operations to continue their mission of feeding local residents despite a quarantine.The M.T.O Shahmagsoudi School of Islamic Sufism discusses its volunteer projects in Albuquerque during the pandemic.

We also have a brief story of an extraordinary partnership between the Santa  Fe Community College culinary program and World Central Kitchen, an organization founded by Chef José Andrés to provide meals during a time of extreme emergency. The two came together to bring needed assistance to Kewa Pueblo and another Pueblo in New Mexico.

The Baha'i Assembly in Gallup has a similar story, coming together with the Tzu Chi Buddhist Foundation to bring assistance to residents of the Navajo Nation. 

Our video will also feature prayers from Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Native spiritual leaders.

In addition to releasing the video on October 16, we will also post more information about the participating organizations and faith communities, including a link on how to help them financially to continue their mission.

Upcoming Events

October 13, 2020  2:00-3:30 P.M.
New Mexico Voices for Children KIDS COUNT Conference
This is the second of a series of three sessions. The series aims to lift up strategically and intentionally anti-racist policy reforms to improve child well-being and to address the impacts of COVID-19 and the current recession on children and families in New Mexico. The third session is scheduled for December 9 Tickets are $25 per session  Register Here

October 22, 6:30-7:45
New Mexico Interfaith Power & Light Virtual Fall Gathering
The interfaith organization will hold its annual gathering online, The event will feature poetry from Albuquerque Poet Laureatte, Mary Oishi. Communities of faith and resilience will be recognized for their  work to promote sustainability and protect the environment, including: NM Acequia Association; Sikh Community of ABQ, and Citizens Caring for the Future in SE NM. Please register with and note NM IPL annual meeting. Zoom link will be sent day of the event.

October 23-25, 2020
Rio Grande Food Project, Fifth Annual Hike to End Hunger
Because of the pandemic, there will not be a collective walk. But the opportunities to participate in the annual event are wide open. Hike, walk, roll, stroll, bike… solo or with your dog(s), family, and/or closest friends (in your cool 2020 Hike to End Hunger T-shirts if you so choose), take photos (you can tag us with #hiketoendhungerabq) and most importantly reduce and prevent food insecurity in Albuquerque by supporting Rio Grande Food Project's work because TOO MANY kids, adults and seniors are missing meals every month, every week...some even going DAYS without eating anything at all. Learn More

November 9,  6:30 p.m.
IHC Zoom Meeting

Topic: How Albuquerque Public Schools and other school systems provided meals to school children during the fall semester.  More details to come

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Report Measures Food, Housing Insecurity on UNM Campus

During the 2020 session of the New Mexico State Legislature, three legislators introduced an initiative proposing an appropriation to the State Education Department to create a pilot program to address college hunger.  

House Bill 69, co-sponsored by Reps. Joanne Ferrary, Christine Trujillo and Melanie Stansbury, was approved on a "Do Pass" basis in committee, but then the measure was postponed indefinitely. Still, the bill was a recognition that hunger among students is a sometimes hidden problem at colleges and universities in New Mexico. 

The issue of hunger among college students is not as highly publicized as hunger in the general population, particularly among children, seniors and working families. But the concern is very real.

A team of UNM researchers--led by two Honors Program faculty members, Assistant Professor Sarita Cargas and Marygold Walsh-Dilley--began discussions last year on a plan to measure food insecurity at the University of New Mexico. Cargas and Walsh-Dilley have been an active participant in the Food, Hunger, Water, Agriculture Policy Action Team, a broad coalition seeking to find ways to reduce hunger in New Mexico. 

In September 2020, the researchers released the first findings in a report entitled Basic Needs Insecurity at UNM: 2020 Research Report. The report was funded primarily by the Office of the Provost and Office of the Chancellor at UNM, but the UNM Honors College, Student Services, and the Office of Student Affairs also contributed financially to the project. In addition to the two lead researchers, Heather Mechler, Kathryn Coakley, Shoshana, Adler Jaffe and Ann Murphy were also part of the team. See full report

"Food insecurity on college campuses has become an area of intense study over the past decade, and research on housing insecurity is on the rise,  said the executive summary.  "This report presents findings from the first representative study of basic needs security in college students in the state of New Mexico. 

First Survey Conducted in April 

The inaugural survey was conducted in April 2020, amidst the global COVID-19 pandemic. According to the study, students were selected using a stratified random sampling method of all degree-seeking students at the Albuquerque UNM campus. 
Factors in the sampling included low-income status (an expected family contribution of $5,576 as determined on a student’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid), level of study, gender, area of study, and ethnicity. The entire sample consisted of 12,000 students. Selected participants received an email two days before the survey launch informing them that they had been selected to participate in a survey about food and housing security among UNM students. 
The survey invitation noted that the first 2,500 participants would receive a $10 Amazon gift card as a token of appreciation for their time. The survey remained open for two weeks, with two reminders sent to students who had not yet responded. 

One in three students food insecure

"The report found that roughly one-third of students surveyed were food insecure in April and four in 10 were housing insecure at one time or another during the previous year.

"Our findings indicate that one in three UNM students were food insecure in April 2020 and over 40% were housing insecure sometime in the previous year," added the executive summary. "Both food and housing insecurity prevalence are higher at UNM than in the broader population of New Mexico. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports that 16.8% of New Mexico Households are food insecure. It is harder to compare ousing insecurity because of a lack of consistent measurement strategies." 

"Basic needs insecurity varies across demographic groups. At UNM, the demographic groups most affected by food insecurity include African Americans and American Indians; transgender and gender fluid students; and gay, lesbian, and bisexual students," the executive summary noted.

The need to address hunger among college students extends beyond UNM. The study at New Mexico's flagship university is just the beginning. There are other universities and colleges in the state where food insecurity is likely present among students, including New Mexico State University in Las Cruces, New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas, New Mexico Tech in Socorro, Eastern New Mexico University in Portales, Western New Mexico University in Silver City, Santa Fe Community College, Central New Mexico Community College in Albuquerque and Northern New Mexico College in Española, among others. These are the largest institutions. There are a couple other dozen small colleges and branch campuses for the major institutions.

Housing Insecurity

According to the  UNM study, the students most affected by housing insecurity are: Hispanic, American Indian, and international students, and students who are two or more races; female, transgender, and gender fluid students; gay, lesbian and bisexual students and students who report that they are not sure of their sexuality; and students with dependents.

"Over one-fifth, or 20.5% of UNM students, experience a double burden of both food and housing insecurity," noted the study.

"Preliminary analysis suggests that basic needs insecurity contributes to poorer academic outcomes," the researchers concluded. "Students reporting food insecurity were more likely to withdraw from or fail a course, and also reported lower grade point averages. Thus, this report suggests that food and housing insecurity contributes to disparities in academic success across demographic groups."

Next Steps

The study offers only a snapshot of the problem at UNM, confirming a situation that researchers suspected already existed. The study recommends a broad approach to address the problem. "Food insecurity and housing insecurity are substantial problems for UNM students and require a comprehensive, systemic, and sustainable response," the study said. "Efforts to address basic needs on campus must be attentive to the stigma that may surround these issues. Additionally, many campus offices, resource centers, and departments must work together to address the problems of food and housing insecurity in the campus community. The needs are too great to be the purview of one office especially if that office has numerous other mandates."