Friday, March 08, 2019

End Hunger in New Mexico: The Next Step

In the end, the number of the memorial changed, but not the text. House Memorial 65
declared Tuesday, March 5, as End Hunger Day in the New Mexico State Legislature, reaffirming our efforts to address hunger (and poverty) in New Mexico in the broadest way possible and to consider long-term solutions to this problem that has afflicted our state for so long.

The memorial states that the hunger council that was created during the 2018 legislative sessin (via House Memorial 90) "be requested to continue its work on a single, statewide plan forending hunger in New Mexico."

Photo: On hand for the reading of HM 65. Front: Rep. Joanne Ferrary and Rep. Karen Bash. Back: Mag Strittmatter (Roadrunner Food Bank), Ellen Buelow (Interfaith Hunger Coalition), Alissa Barnes (Roadrunner Food Bank), Brenda Sinfield (Interfaith Hunger Coalition), Joy Dinaro (Interfaith Hunger Coalition), Rep. Rebecca Dow, Carlos Navarro (Interfaith Hunger Coalition), Amber Wallin (New Mexico Voices for Children), Eva Gonzales (AARP-New Mexico), Allison Griffin of Cullari Communications Global

Photo courtesy of Allison Griffin
A Legislative Hunger Caucus
The big difference from last year's HM90 is that this year's memorial also resolves that "members of the New Mexico legislature be requested to form a "hunger caucus" to support legislation aimed at ending hunger in New Mexico." In the coming days, we'll post a list of members of the Senate and House who signed on to the Hunger Caucus.

HM65 saw first light this legislative session as House Joint Memorial 13 (HJM 13) to reflect a joint effort with the Senate. With Senate action uncertain, it became a House initiative. Later, we learned that a joint memorial in the Senate (SJM 16). That measure is labeled as "House Table," but also indicates a 34-0 vote. (As it turns out, a version of HM65 was read in the Senate on March 5, thanks to the efforts of Sen. Michael Padilla).

Another change from the initial HJM 13 was the addition of a fifth lead sponsor: Rep, Anthony Allison of San Juan Pueblo, to the four original sponsors, Rep. Joanne Ferrary of Las Cruces, Rep. Rebecca Dow of Truth or Consequences, and Rep. Karen Bash and Rep. Liz Thomson, both of Albuquerque. 

Rep. Liz Thomson
Many Bipartisan Voices
Ahead of the reading of HM65, legislators in both chambers received a nice "package," comprised of a paper plate with a message from a person suffering from hunger, a sheet with instructions for a SNAP Challenge, a request (penned by Rep. Ferrary) to join the bicameral Hunger Caucus, and an apple (courtesy of Allison Griffin of Cullari Communications Global).  Cullari Communications is promoting nutrition legislation via HB466). A couple of the lead sponsors of that bill (Rep. Ferrary ane Rep. Bash) are also among the five sponsors of HM65.

Legislators from both parties spoke out in favor of HM65, including sponsors Rep. Ferarry (pictured at left), Rep. Dow, Rep. Thomson, Rep. Bash. We also heard from Rep. Gail Armstrong (Magdalena), Rep. Andrea Romero (Santa Fe), Rep. Bill Pratt (Albuquerque), Rep. Randal Crowder (Clovis), among others.

Many hunger-related concerns were raised, including an endorsement of  our proposal to create a statewide and long-term plan to address hunger in New Mexico.

Some specifics were mentioned, including the need to provide nutritious food to our children and seniors. Some legislators mentioned a lack of services for seniors, particularly in rural communities.

With HM65, we took another step toward the goal of ending hunger in New Mexico. But stay tuned. Our work is still only beginning.

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