Saturday, August 01, 2015

New Mexico Food Bank Association Raising Funds to Boost Refrigerated Capacity in Rural Communities

Fresh produce is not generally available in rural food pantries
Food banks and some food pantries in metropolitan areas like Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Las Cruces generally have access to refrigerates space or have their cold-storage facilities to store fruits, vegetables and other perishable food items to distribute to clients.

This is not the case in many small rural areas, where pantries  distribute dry, packaged goods but generally little fresh produce (outside of summer months, where locally grown produce available at growers markets). While the ideal solution would be to build centrally located cold-storage facilities near these communities, the next-best option is to help the pantries themselves acquire more refrigerated capacity.

This is where the New Mexico Association of Food Banks (NMAFB) comes in. "We're trying to raise funds to put refrigeration in some of our smaller agencies around the state that currently have difficulty distributing fresh food," said NMAFB director Kathy Komoll.

There is no one-size-fits-all strategy because the needs and costs are different from pantry to pantry. "The price for the refrigeration varies - some agencies just need a large refrigerator, some could use commercial cooler/freezers, and in some we might put in a small walk- in cooler," said Komoll.

The NMAFB has a couple of roles in the effort to bring cold-storage capacity to agencies in rural New Mexico. First, the association is letting faith communities and other potential funders that the need exists and that some of the smaller agencies lack capacity to put together their own fundraising campaigns. "We're letting groups around the state know about the need (like St. Timothy's) to see if they have an interest in partnering with agencies to increase the capacity to distribute fresh food," said Komoll.

Rev. Rachel Powell stands by the chart at St. Timothy's
Fundraising at Two Churches 
A couple of churches in Albuquerque,  St. Timothy's Lutheran Church and Cross of Hope Lutheran Church, have heard the NMAFB's appeal and have launched a fundraising effort to help with the effort to bring refrigerated space to some of the rural communities in our state. St. Timothy's, which adopts a charity each quarter, has chosen the cold-storage effort as its fundraising project for the July-September quarter, aiming to raise $1,500. "We have a friendly competition with Cross of Hope Lutheran Church," said Terry Christiansen, a member of St. Timothy's.

If both churches meet the goal, that could mean $3,000 for the cold storage project. St. Timothy's is keeping track of  the donations on a chart that is shaped like a refrigerated door. "The Stewardship Committee understand the great need as many food banks and pantries are helping families for longer periods of time and food banks are being encourgaed to offer fresh produce," St. Timothy's said in a bulletin announcement. We will provide an update in October after St. Timothy's and Cross of Hope have completed their drive.

If your congregation or group would like to help with the effort to bring cold storage to rural New Mexico, drop a note to Kathy Komoll at the New Mexico Association of Food Banks, 5840 Office Blvd. NE Albuquerque, NM 87109,, 505.217.1066 The funds raised by local agencies will supplement the NMAFB's other funding efforts for the project. According to Komoll, the association has applied for a couple of grants to help bring cold storage to rural areas.  

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