community discussion on food insecurity and hunger in northern New Mexico on Saturday, March 21. The forum was sponsored by Christus St. Vincent hospital, as part of a series of community discussions to commemorate its 150th anniversary. Below are some excerpts from a six-minute address by Mayor Gonzales, followed by the video of his talk. (Photo Kathy Armijo Etre from Christus St. Vincent and Mayor Gonzales)
A report from Feeding America found some sobering statistics: 15% of people in Santa Fe are hungry every night. What's even more unacceptable, 25% of our children are food insecure or hungry. And so many more live right on the line between security and hunger, one layoff or serious illness away from disaster. Almost 70% of our kids in public schools qualify for free or reduced price meals. If we really are one community, one family, one Santa Fe, we can't ignore the fact that our neighbors are falling through the cracks."
There's no question that it presents an important public policy dilemma. It's a public health crisis, as poor nutrition leads to lifelong chronic illness that increases costs and hurts health care outcomes for our entire community. It's also an education crisis, as kids who are hungry cannot be expected to come to school ready to learn.
To be perfectly honest, what's more important to me, is that it's a moral issue. We all depend on one another. No one in Santa Fe should worry about putting good healthy food on the table. Period.