Saturday, April 23, 2011

Feeding Columbus (New Mexico)

By Victoria Tester
On a recent Thursday in March, volunteers at the Andrew Sanchez Youth Center in Columbus, New Mexico, directed by Guadalupe Otero, worked to distribute nearly 5,700 pounds of food to an estimated 200 families as part of the Roadrunner Project.

The food is delivered to the Center in Columbus on Wednesdays by the Roadrunner Food Bank, a non-profit food distribution center that feeds hungry people throughout New Mexico, and it is then distributed on Thursdays at 2 p.m. at the Center.

The Andrew Sanchez Youth Center joined in on the Roadrunner Project early February 2011, due to strong need in the Columbus community, where unemployment rates are high.

Over 300 eligible Columbus families have registered. Registration is 1 to 2 p.m. on Mondays at the Center, and proof of income and Columbus residency are required.

Eligible families receive a box of approximately 25 pounds of a variety of food, depending on the number of families to be served. Boxes usually contain vegetables, both fresh and canned, peanut butter, bread or pastry, pasta and spaghetti sauce, meat or tuna.

Guadalupe Otero
Otero says, smiling, "It is really the volunteers who run the program. I do the paperwork -- they do the packaging and distributing."

Fifteen Columbus volunteers, all cheerful, worked together for hours to prepare the food for distribution.

One little girl put on a pair disposable gloves in order to help her mother sort pastries.

It was clearly a case of the village of Columbus working to help the village of Columbus. "There's a lot of good in this community," says Otero, whose work was recognized in the Congressional Record in 2003. "I'd like the world to see that."

(The author is U.S. Coordinator for La Luz de La Esperanza Palomas Outreach and poet, playwright and photographer).

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