Saturday, October 08, 2011

From the Despensa Program to a Food Bank for Sunland Park

(This is the fourth in a series of blog posts to commemorate  Local Food Month  and Food Day in New Mexico during October in which we feature  people and organizations who seek to raise awareness and offer solutions to problems of hunger and poverty and promote nutrition and sustainability.  We will also highlight a number of anti-hunger events).

Today we feature the efforts of the local chapter of  Spirit Mission to create a full food bank in Sunland Park, New Mexico, a poor community near the border with Chihuahua. The organization created a program to provide food on a regular basis to people in the community living below the federal poverty level through a special distribution effort known as the Despensa.  But the needs are greater than the program can offer because 47% of Sunland Park live below the federal poverty level.

"The Despensa program at the beginning set out to help a small amount of families with their food needs. This has grown from a 90 family handout at the beginning on July 20th 2011, to a 500-family distribution program in the span of just six weeks," said Rafael Ramos, president and CEO of Spirit Mission "

Ramos said the goal is to provide service to 750 families by the end of December 2011, but they need to create a full food bank to accomplish this task.   "We will need help in the form of capital to establish a stable method of distributing food that can be sustainable in three years," said Ramos.

"Our organization is working to establish a permanent, sustainable delivery system of food services to the community on a long- term basis," said Ramos.

Ramos' son, a community development specialist, said the organization has been  working with Casa de Peregrinos to obtain food for distribution, but is looking to establish a direct relationship with Albuquerque-based Roadrunner Food Bank.  "Casa de Peregrinos is helping us do the transition smoothly," he said.

"Now we have a very good system to track people coming to receive food and make the process go a bit faster," said Ramos Jr.

But the move to a larger operation is going to take money. "At this moment, we have local donors who are helping this program to continue running at its small current level," said Ramos Sr.  "This is helping us stay on course with our efforts, but it is not enough to reach our mid-term goals. For this, Spirit Mission South would need steady funding to grow our base and market our services to the southern New Mexico area."

If you want to help, send donations to:

Spirit Mission Inc.
1885 McNutt Rd.
Sunland Park, NM 880063

3 comments:

Daniel E said...

This is a great effort. Unfortunately, we will see greater and greater need if the Congress votes in a budget that makes more cuts to assistance programs.

BreadNewMexico said...

Thank you Daniel. That needed to be said. Charity is good and very needed, and the efforts like those o Spirit Mission are a great example. But what we need more is justice, especially in the way we make our national budget decisions.

Lorenzo Alba, Jr. said...

When we (Casa de Peregrinos) started the program at San Martin de Porres in Sunland Park, we knew this would turn into a massive outreach effort. We also understood and made them understand that they would at some point be able to be their own self sustained food pantry. They are doing amazing work at Spirit Mission and Casa de Peregrinos is very proud to have started that program and blessed that they are doing such awesome work. Oh, I'm the executive director at Casa de Peregrinos.