Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Albuquerque Offering of Letters Workshop 2013

Sonya Warwick chats with workshop participants
More than a dozen people attended our Offering of Letters workshop in Albuquerque on March 16.  Thanks to St. Andrew Presbyterian Church for hosting us again this year! Because of spring break and other commitments, some of our regulars were able to be there.  But it was really great to see a lot of new faces.  There were representatives from St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, Albuquerque Mennonite Church, St. Thomas of Canterbury Episcopal Church, Albuquerque Friends Meeting, All Saints Lutheran Church, St. Andrew Presbyterian Church, Immaculate Conception Catholic Church and Aquinas Newman Center Catholic Church. 

We viewed a couple of segments from the Offering of Letters video (the trailer to the movie A Place at the Table and the Offering of Letters video featuring Derick Dailey and Jeanette Salguero) and discussed Offering of Letters strategies.

I would like to share two other highlights

A Dialogue with Sonya Warwick
One of the highlights of the workshop was a dialogue with Sonya Warwick, a communications officer with Roadrunner Food Bank, who tied in some of the issues that were discussed in the documentary A Place at the Table.  A key point that Ms. Warwick brought up is that major cuts in public-assistance programs such as SNAP and The Emergency Assistance Food Program (TEFAP) could leave charitable organizations like Roadrunner Food Bank in a major bind.  "If we see cuts in these programs, the charitable food system will be overwhelmed and may not be able to respond to the increased demand on places such as the Food Bank and the hundreds of agencies we serve across New Mexico," said Ms. Warwick.

Every week, there are nearly 40,000 New Mexicans who are served by Roadrunner Food Bank every week. "The sad thing is that half of those being helped are children," said Ms. Warwick. So how many food-insecure people are there in New Mexico? Ms. Warwick said the last count occurred four years ago before the recession, and the statistics at at that time was about 232,200 people suffering from food insecurity. A new study will be conducted soon that will offer a more accurate figure. For now, one measure is Feeding America's Mapping the Meal Gap, which looks at food insecurity in every county in the U.S. Here is the link for 2012.  And here is a piece on this topic that we posted  in the Bread New Mexico blog in May 2012.

Ms.Warwick also discussed the difficulty in acquiring fresh produce for distribution to client agencies. "Produce is important in all of our diets, but especially for clients that usually can’t afford to buy produce at the store." But she noted that that Roadrunner Food Bank is doing all it can to make this an option for agencies. She said the warehouse was insulated two years ago to ensure that donated and gleaned produce can last longer. "Compared to our other Feeding America peers across the US, we're probably the best in the country in terms of the produce we give out given our dessert state. Last year it was about 8 million pounds of food, but we could always use more."

Opening Worship: Follow the Crumbs of Heartbreak
Joy Carroll and Terese Bridges
Joy Carroll from Immaculate Conception Catholic Church prepared the opening worship, with some help from Terese Bridges from St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church.

Terese led us in an the Taizé song Eat This Bread.

I would like to share the opening litany that Joy used for the worship, taken from the book Mother of God, Similar to Fire (Icons by William Hart McNichols with Reflections by Mirabal Starr).

Mother of Mercy, the cries of the world keep me awake at night.

I rise from my bed, but I cannot locate the source of the wailing.

It is everywhere, Mother, coming from all directions, and my heart is shattered by the sheer intensity of the suffering.

You of boundless compassion, expand my heart to that I can contain the pain.

Focus my mind so that I can arrive at viable solutions, and energize my body so that I can engage in effective action

Give me the courage to follow the crumbs of heartbreak all the way home to the place where I can be of real service.

Let me dip my finger in the dew of your compassion and scatter it now over the fevered brow of the world. Amen

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