Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Gumbo, Gazpacho and Vichyssoise, Oh My!

It was a both a party and a fundraiser.

It was silent auction as well as an opportunity to sample various types of soup. (gazpacho, vichyssoise, green chile stew, Italian wedding soup, gumbo).

It was a partnership between the Rio Grande Food Project and the food pantry at St. John XXIII Catholic Community.

In the end, this event held on Saturday, May 19 at the home of Terry and Jeannette Dunbar, raised just over $6,000 from a silent auction and donations. In addition, people who attended the event brought non-perishable food items, which yielded 212 pounds of food. All in all, a successful evening! Here are some photos.

Ari Herring, Maria Duran, Kathy Freeze, Sandy Gaudet

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Prayer AND Advocacy During Farm Bill Deliberations

We need both action and contemplation to have a whole spiritual journey. It doesn’t matter which comes first; action may lead you to contemplation and contemplation may lead you to action. But finally, they need and feed each other.  -Rev. Richard Rohr, OFM

Last week, we received two separate notes from Bread for the World. One note came from Bishop José García, senior advisor for prayer and strategic initiatives, who urged us to join the monthly prayer circle to include two requests in our prayers: the well-being of low-income individuals whose benefits are running out, and wisdom and compassion for our members of Congress as they debate the farm bill.

Circle of Prayer: As we fast again this month, we pray especially for those whose SNAP benefits will run out on or near the 21st day of the month. This is particularly important as Congress works on the farm bill.

To support your fast and create community, we are starting a monthly Prayer Circle. Please join us May 21 at 12 p.m. (EDT).

The Prayer Circle will be led by our special guest Rev. Art Simon, founder of Bread for the World. We will pray for Congress to write a farm bill that protects and strengthens domestic nutrition programs and fully funds and continues to improve our international food aid programs.

Register for the Circle of Prayer

Advocacy: The second note came from Christine M. Ashley, interim co-director of government relations, who asked us to contact our legislators in the House of Representatives to urge them to vote against H.R.2  the Agriculture and Nutrition Act (H.R.2).

 "The farm bill imposes SNAP benefit and eligibility cuts in addition to stricter work requirements, in the name of getting SNAP recipients back to work" said Ms. Ashley. "If enacted, these changes would make it harder for families with children, people with disabilities, and seniors to get the food they need,"  

Ashley wrote the note two days before H.R. 2 was defeated in the House by a vote of 213-198.  The threat a punitive Farm Bill has not gone away, so the appeal to advocacy still stands. However, the strategy has shifted.

Here is a note from Food Research and Action CenterThank House Members who voted “No” on H.R. 2 and urge them to reject the motion to reconsider; urge Senators to protect and strengthen SNAP, including by rejecting SNAP cuts and by improving adequacy of SNAP benefits.

And this note appeared in the Bread Blog: Unfortunately, House Speaker Paul Ryan could bring this bill back up for a vote again early next week, so we will need to ensure our members of Congress stand strong in opposing these harmful cuts. Call your representative (800-826-3688) to thank them for voting against the bill or to oppose their support for the bill. (list of yeas and nays)

Friday, May 18, 2018

A Portrait of a Hunger Hero in Marshall County, Indiana

She’s traveled all over the world to learn firsthand how hunger and food insecurity look in different countries (there’s not a standard template, she says).

She spends a great deal of time in Washington, DC, to lobby for legislation that assists people who are food insecure (people who do not have reliable access to nutritious food they can afford).

But a good portion of her time is spent at home in Michiana, helping the hungry and the impoverished in local communities.

“It’s endlessly rewarding,” she says. “It’s what I’m meant to do.” -Article in Edible Michiana magazine

I was so proud to see my friend Angie Ruprock-Shafer featured in a recent edition of the Edible Michiana magazine, which focuses on a variety of food issues, including nutrition, community agriculture and hunger. The print edition of this issue was out on display counters several weeks ago, but the article appeared online in mid-May.

Angie and I served together on the board of directors of Bread for the World for a few years. When she came on board, she was on the communications staff of Church World Service (the folks that bring you the CROP Walk).

The article, entitlted "Hyperlocal focus on the hungry leads local woman to global goal,"notes that Angie's Christian and humanitarian values are strong reasons why she is so involved in many different ways to fight hunger (from social media to direct advocacy to policy making). “The Bible talks endlessly about fighting hunger,” Rupchock-Schafer told article author Mike Petrucelli

And now Angie is going to take her fight against hunger to a different level. She is running for a seat in the Marshall County Commission so she can become a participant in crafting public policy.

This article is a great tribute to Angie  You can read it here

But this is not the first time that Angie has been quoted in Edible Michiana.  She was quoted in a piece about food councils in October 2017.“Farm-to-school programs help create a steady market for local farmers and provide fresh, nutritious food for our kids,” said Angela Rupchock-Schafer, a founding member of the Marshall County Food Council. “Good nutrition is essential to help our students thrive—especially those who may face hunger at home.” -Read full article

Thursday, May 17, 2018

House Candidates Discuss Immigration, Poverty at Forum in #ABQ

Davis, Arnold-Jones, Princeton (standing), Lara, Haaland, Sedillo Lopez, Moya, Martinez (off frame)
On Wednesday, May 16, the eight individuals seeking to fill the soon-to-be vacant New Mexico Congressional District 1 seat in the House of Representatives participated in a discussion on immigration and other issues at First Presbyterian Church in Albuquerque. The race has drawn six Democrats (Pat Davis, Debra Haaland, Damian Lara, Damon Martinez, Paul Moya, Antoinette Sedillo Lopez), one Republican (Janice Arnold-Jones) and one Libertarian (Lloyd Princeton). The seat is currently held by Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who is leaving to run for governor of New Mexico.

The forum was organized by the New Mexico Faith Coalition for Immigrant Justice, Among the immigration issues that were discussed were the role of local police in enforcing immigration policy, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and locations within the city where immigration enforcement personnel should not be allowed to seek undocumented immigrants.

Poverty and Economic Development
One of the "other" issues that were discussed was child poverty and poverty in New Mexico in general.  As one who works on addressing hunger and poverty in our state, our country and overseas, this was an area of particular interest. The candidates addressed this issue in a somewhat superficial manner. To be fair, they couldn't go in depth because they were given 90 seconds to make a statement.

Here are some comments that stood out for me that were directly or indirectly relevant to the Bread for the World Offering of Letters, entitled For Such a Time as This. In New Mexico, the focus of our letters is on protecting the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which affect so many individuals and families in our state. Haaland addressed this issue directly. "Kids cannot learn when they're hungry," she said.  However, Martinez spoke of protecting safety net programs, and Sedillo Lopez spoke of the need to "radically expand" the earned-income tax credit (EITC), which is a position that Bread has supported.

Sedillo Lopez and Davis both spoke of the need to increase the minimum wage, although the former mentioned a specific figure: $15 per hour and then link any increases to inflation.

Another area that was discussed was education--specifically early childhood education, which the  candidates agreed could use more support. "The surest way out of poverty is to fix education," said Moya.  This was also a point of emphasis for Martinez, Sedillo-Lopez and Davis.  Lara mentioned the need to expand Headstart.

Arnold Jones addressed the need to reduce overregulation to promote economic growth in the state, while Princeton suggested that more effort should go to programs like vocational training in the state to help boost employment.

Letters to Candidates
While the forum did not lend itself to a broad discussion on hunger and poverty in New Mexico, we are hoping to raise the issue to the candidates between now and the November election.

After June 5, only one of the six Democrats will remain in the race, along with Arnold-Jones and Princeton. We hope to promote letters to the three candidates as part of our ongoing Offering of Letters efforts in New Mexico (along with continuing letters to our current House and Senate members).  The Congressional seat in the 2nd district is also open, so we may address letters to the eventual nominees seeking to replace Rep. Steve Pearce, who is also running for governor.  Stay tuned for more details.

As of May 15, four churches had written more than 500 letters to Reps. Lujan Grisham, Pearce, and Ben Ray Lujan and Sens. Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich (who is also running for re-election this year).

I was pleased to learn that the location of the congressional debate, First Presbyterian Church, is planning an Offering of Letters on May 20, a fact that Rev. Matthew Miller, pastor of the church, proudly pointed out to me. The letters written on May 20 will be dedicated on  May 27. Special thanks to Kirsten Marr for organizing this effort at First Presbyterian Church.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Community Gatherings for Fast-Breaking Meal (Iftar) During Ramadan

Today, on the first day of Ramadan, we post this video of Catherine Osborne, director of Shoulder to Shoulder. The organization  has teamed up with Se7enFast, the Islamic Society of North America, and The People’s Supper  to create The United States of Love over Hate: A Ramadan Supper Series.   The primary goal of this effort is to identify, support, and connect people to host Iftars open to interfaith guests across the United States, in order to help facilitate local relationship building among Muslim and non-Muslim communities. Join the United States of Love Over Hate!  Here is a listing  from Se7enFast to others who have joined.

The Dialogue Institute/Turkish Raindrop House in Albuquerque are on the Se7enFast list and have followed this model of including  the community at large (including the Interfaith Hunger Coalition) with Iftar meals over the past several years,. Check out the stories of the local interfaith Iftar meals in 2016 and 2017. This year, anyone from the community in Albuquerque can sign up to participate in an Iftar meal on each of the Saturdays of Ramadan.  Space is limited, so registration is requested. Register Here

We also  hope to again organize a special gathering with the Dialogue Institute/Turkish Raindrop House on a weekday. Stay tuned for more details.

In this video, Dr. Osborn, discusses a community event against bigotry in Redmond, Washington.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

A Prayer for All Mothers

From Catholic Relief Services: As we reflect on the struggles of mothers and their children worldwide, let’s lift up this adapted prayer by Mother Teresa of Calcutta:

O God, we pray for all mothers in our world
who are suffering from injustice:
because of their race, color, or religion;
for mothers imprisoned
for working for the relief of oppression;
for mothers who are hounded
for speaking the inconvenient truth;
for mothers tempted to violence
as a cry against overwhelming hardship;
for mothers deprived of reasonable health and education;
for mothers suffering from hunger and famine;
for mothers too weak to help themselves
and who have no one else to help them;
for the unemployed who cry out
for work but do not find it.

We pray for any mother of our acquaintance
who is personally affected by injustice.
Forgive us, Lord, if we unwittingly share in the conditions
or in a system that perpetuates injustice.
Show us how we can serve your children
and make your love practical by washing their feet. 

Thursday, May 10, 2018

#HandsOffSNAP Tweets

The farm bill imposes SNAP benefit and eligibility cuts in addition to stricter work requirements, in the name of getting SNAP recipients back to work. If enacted, these changes would make it harder for families with children, people with disabilities, and seniors to get the food they need. Christine M. Ashley,Interim Co-Director of Government Relations, Bread for the World
Get the facts about SNAP.

The House Agriculture Committee's proposed Farm Bill, which would make draconian cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and other nutrition assistance programs, prompted anti-hunger advocates and organizations to launch the #HandsOffSNAP campaign to spread the word that hunger would increase significantly if the measure is approved.

Here is a sampling of messages on Twitter that carried the #HandsoffSNAP hashtag, which was also used to highlight rallies and press conferences on May 8.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Happy 26th Birthday to the #StampOutHunger Food Drive!

With 42 million people facing hunger every day in America, including 13 million children, this drive is one way you can help those in your own city or town who need help.  -National Association of Letter Carriers
Celebrate  the 26th anniversary of the Letter Carriers' Stamp Out Hunger food drive by leaving non-perishable food items near your mail box (or better yet, taking it to your local branch post office) on Saturday, May 12.

Ten thousand communities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Guam participate in Stamp Out Hunger annually.

In New Mexico, at least 25 communities participate annually, including Alamogordo, Albuquerque, Artesia, Aztec, Belen, Bloomfield, Carlsbad, Clovis, Deming, Farmington, Gallup, Grants, Hobbs, Las Cruces, Las Vegas, Lovington, Los Alamos, Portales, Rio Rancho, Roswell, Santa Fe, Silver City, Socorro, Tucumcari and White Rock.

Monday, May 07, 2018

Poor People's Campaign to Hold ABQ, Las Cruces, Santa Fe Events

Wednesday, May 9,  Las Cruces
The majority of the Poor People's Campaign events have taken place in Albuquerque and Santa Fe. For residents of Las Cruces and neaby communities in southern New Mexico, here is a chance to learn more abut the campaign. 

The informational and organizing session will take place at Peace Lutheran Church, 1701 Missouri  (between So. Solano and S. Locust (map),  5:30 - 7:30 PM

Thursday, May 10, Albuquerque
Faith Leaders in Albuquerque are invited to join a one-hour comprehensive view of  the campaign at  Second Presbyterian Church (corner of Edith and Lomas) (map), 1:30-2:30 p.m.,. Plentiful parking is available behind the church,

If you can't make it, you can still participate by joining the conference call  712-432-0220 code 4712962#

Monday, May 14, Santa Fe
Join with campaign organizers ar the Roundhouse in Santa Fe (map) for the first of six Moral Fusion Non-violent Direct Actions  Theme for this Action: Child Poverty and Early Education and Seed Sovereignty  (May 14 also marks the date for the launch of the national Poor People's Campaign).

Bring offerings of healthy food items for the Santa Fe Public Schools-affiliated program Adelante (not to be confused with the Albuquerque agency with the same name). The Santa Fe program provides advocacy, tutoring, evening programs and material aid for children, teens and their families...and also plays a crucial role in educating the community about child homelessness.

Sunday, May 06, 2018

Opinion: Cuts in SNAP Would Hurt New Mexico

The New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty (NMCLP) and the Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP) are two of the strong voices in our state opposing any measures that would reduce access to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for low-income and working families and individuals.

Both organizations have spoken out against restrictive measures proposed by Gov. Susana Martinez's administration. In 2015, SWOP has organized a town hall opposing unrealistic work proposals that the Martinez administration proposed for SNAP recipients. The NMCLP has fought the Martinez administration in court over the same issue and has also helped organize a coalition to oppose draconian cuts proposed in federal legislation. At the same time, NMCLP has highlighted the positive impact of SNAP on our state economy.

In a column published in The Albuquerque Journal on Sunday, May 6, entitled Cuts in SNAP bad for poor people, economy, NMCLP Managing Attorney Sovereign Hager and SWOP Executive DIrector George Lujan address the impact of the 2018 Farm Bill proposed by the House Agriculture Committee on New Mexico. The measure would severely reduce SNAP benefits.

Here are the first two paragraphs of the opinion piece.

In New Mexico, food is at the heart of our culture. In this collective identity we have a shared understanding that no one in the community should ever go hungry. Unfortunately, 20 percent of New Mexicans do not have enough to eat right now, including as many as one in three children.

The 2018 U.S. Farm Bill, proposed by Republicans in Congress, would make the situation unbearably worse for our families by cutting SNAP – the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program – and preventing more than 120,000 New Mexicans from putting food on the table. New Mexico can simply not afford such a huge step backward.

Read the Full Editorial Online

Saturday, May 05, 2018

Special Event in #ABQ to Feature Enneagram Master Russ Hudson

The Enneagram is one of the most powerful and insightful tools for understanding ourselves and others. At its core, the Enneagram helps us to see ourselves at a deeper, more objective level and can be of invaluable assistance on our path to self-knowledge. — Adapted from The Enneagram Institute

Trinity House Catholic Worker presents 
An Evening with
Enneagram Master Teacher
Russ Hudson

Thursday, May 10, 2018, 
7:00–9:00 p.m.

Trinity House Catholic Worker is delighted to host a basic Enneagram mini course with globally recognized Enneagram Master Teacher Russ Hudson, in the chapel of the Abbey of Santa Maria de la Vid, Norbertine Community,5825 Coors Blvd SW (map). The cost to attend this special two-hour event, a fundraiser for Trinity House, is $50/person. (Seating is limited!)

Russ Hudson, co-founder of the Enneagram Institute, is one of the principal scholars and innovative thinkers in the Enneagram world today. He is also the executive director of Enneagram Personality Types, Inc. He has been co-teaching the Enneagram Professional Training Programs since 1991, and is a founding director and former vice president of the International Enneagram Association. He is the co-author of The Wisdom of the Enneagram, Personality Types, Understanding the Enneagram, and Discovering Your Personality Type.

To register and to pay the $50 event fee, visit the Trinity House website, then scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the “Donate” button.

(Please do not contact Trinity House Catholic Worker or the Norbertine Community).

Friday, May 04, 2018

Feeding America Sets Call-in Day for Tuesday

Image from Bread for the World
Earlier, we sent out sign-in letters from the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty (for organizations) and the Southwest Organizing Project (for individuals) to Congress asking that the Supplemental Nutrition Program be protected. 

Here is another way to take action. Feeding America and its local affiliates around the country, including Roadrunner Food Bank in Central and Southern New Mexico, are urging anti-hunger advocates around the country to participate in National Call-in Day on Tuesday, May 8, to oppose cuts in SNAP the Farm Bill.

Here’s a few details about the call in:
  1. Dial Feeding America’s toll free number, (888) 398-8702 
  2. Listen to the pre-recorded message. 
  3. Enter your zip code and be connected to your Representative
  4. Once you are connected to your Member of Congress, state that you are a constituent and give your name and the town you are calling from. Let the office know you are calling about The Farm Bill. 
Deliver this message:
(Please use the following script to help oppose cuts to SNAP and advocate for a strong Farm Bill).
I’m calling from [community name] which [Congressperson’s name] serves.
I’m concerned about the House Farm Bill. The bill’s severe cuts to the SNAP program through burdensome and unnecessary work time limits and restrictions on eligibility will lengthen the lines at our pantries, soup kitchens, and other sites that serve hungry people in my community.

Charitable hunger programs in our state will not be able to meet the demand of these proposed SNAP cuts. The deep cuts to SNAP will negatively impact the people we serve and increase hunger in our community.

I’m asking you to oppose H.R. 2 – the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 and to come up with a bipartisan bill that protects and strengthens this vital program.

Thank you for passing my thoughts and concerns along to (Congress person’s name here).

Thursday, May 03, 2018

New Mexico Organizations Urge Congress to Protect SNAP

Photo: SNAPWorks
The Interfaith Hunger Coalition is joining several state organizations in signing this letter to our congressional delegation. "We need to support New Mexico’s rural communities and make sure no one in our state goes hungry. But cuts to food assistance proposed in the 2018 House Agriculture Committee Farm Bill, which is expected to be voted on as early as next week, would take food off the table for millions of people," said the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, which is organizing the effort.

Sign your advocacy organization onto our letter to the New Mexico congressional delegation asking them to oppose the cuts to SNAP in the Farm Bill   Here is a link for organizations to sign by May 10.

(The Southwest Organizing Project also offers a link for individuals to contact Congress)

To the Members of Congress
We write to urge the New Mexico congressional delegation to fully fund and protect the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) in the 2018 Farm Bill. 1 in 4 New Mexicans , and about 99,000 children rely on SNAP to eat. SNAP reduces hunger and poverty, improves health and learning, increases productivity, creates jobs, and invests in the future of our communities.

The undersigned are state and local organizations committed to ensuring a strong and effective nutrition safety net for New Mexico families. We call on our Congressional Delegates to oppose the current Farm Bill because it will reduce access to SNAP for hundreds of thousands of New Mexicans and make it harder for families with unemployed or underemployed adults to eat or find work.

Image: Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-NM
SNAP is New Mexico’s Most Effective Anti-Hunger Tool
Throughout our state, far too many families are struggling to make ends meet. In New Mexico, 332,610 people are food insecure, accounting for 16 percent of the state’s population. Of these individuals at risk for hunger, 125,000 are children, which is 26 percent of the children in the state. SNAP, as our state’s most effective anti-hunger tool, has the broadest reach to address these individuals quickly and effectively. It helped 471,000 New Mexicans put food on the table last year alone. Nearly two-thirds of those who use the program are children, the elderly, or people with disabilities. In 2016, 41 percent of households participating in SNAP in New Mexico were living in deep poverty, with incomes below 50 percent of the federal poverty guideline. SNAP makes sure basic needs are met by keeping 76,000 people out of poverty in New Mexico, including 36,000 children, per year, between 2009 and 2012.

SNAP is an Important Work Support for New Mexico Families
For hundreds of thousands of New Mexicans, work does not itself guarantee steady or sufficient income to provide for their families. SNAP helps 1 in 7 workers in New Mexico by providing food when wages aren’t simply enough. Workers turn to SNAP to supplement low and fluctuating pay and to help families get by during spells of unemployment. Some of the most common occupations in the state have low wages, unpredictable scheduling, and few benefits. For example, the most common occupations among New Mexicans participating in SNAP have hourly wages far below the state average of $21.23 in 2016. Over two-fifths of personal care aides, over one-third of cooks and childcare workers, and one-third of housekeeping cleaners participate in SNAP in New Mexico. SNAP is a crucial support for workers because they can apply when their income drops and receive benefits rapidly and on a monthly basis. SNAP benefits also provide help when hours drop and limited scheduling makes working more hours difficult.

SNAP Creates Jobs and Brings Millions of Dollars into our Local Economy
SNAP benefits are spent at more than 1,590 authorized retailers in New Mexico, including grocers and local food retailers around the state. $650.5 million of SNAP benefits were redeemed in New Mexico in 2017 alone. Every dollar of federal SNAP benefits generates $1.70 in economic activity. A 2010 study by the USDA found that for every $1 billion of added SNAP funding, between 8,900 and 17,000 jobs were created.

Cuts to Food Assistance in the Farm Bill Will Hurt New Mexico Families
The Farm Bill that would make it harder for over a hundred thousand New Mexicans to put food on the table by cutting SNAP benefits by 20 billion dollars over the next ten years and shifting this money into an untested work program with unforgiving penalties that could reduce benefits for families up to three years. As you know unemployment rates in New Mexico are the second highest in the country, in some counties even doubling and tripling the national average. The bill would take away food assistance from unemployed or underemployed SNAP participants between ages 18 through 59 who are not disabled, including parents of children over six years old. This will directly impact over 120,000 New Mexicans, who will face the loss of SNAP and hundreds of thousands of other participants who live in the same households as unemployed workers.

The 2018 Farm Bill would also restrict a state option known as “categorical eligibility”, which allows states to adjust income cutoffs for those making a little more than the federal eligibility cutoff amount of 130 percent so families are not suddenly cut off of SNAP because of a small increase in income. This change would affect 31 states, including New Mexico, and essentially impose a benefit cliff that any family needing food assistance could face if they are able to make a little more than 130 percent of the federal poverty guideline while receiving SNAP benefits.

Changes to federal food assistance programs will also impact Native American communities in New Mexico, which include 23 sovereign nations. As of February 2018, 75,637 SNAP participants in New Mexico were Native American. The federal government must engage in government to government consultation prior to changing federal food programs that impact Native Americans. These governments have not been consulted about the proposed changes in the Farm Bill. The proposed Farm Bill would also eliminate federal requirements that food distribution participants on Native American reservations be surveyed to determine which traditional foods should be included in distributions. Native American nations have the right to govern their affairs and protect the health and well-being of their peoples.

We call on you to protect and defend the federal nutrition programs from structural changes and to fully fund and defend SNAP from budget cuts, taking steps to ensure all people in New Mexico have access to the nutrition they need to live healthy and productive lives. We call on you to protect one of the most effective forms of economic stimulus the state can offer many local businesses that are authorized to accept SNAP benefits. The proposed cuts and changes to SNAP will take away food from children, working people, people struggling to find jobs, and many others struggling just to make ends meet.

We stand ready to work with our members of Congress to protect this important program.


Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Rescuing Prepared Foods in Albuquerue

America has more than enough food to feed everyone. But our abundance is accompanied by tremendous waste. By some estimates, nearly half of the food grown, processed and transported in the U.S. goes to waste.  -from Feeding America's "Fighting Food Waste with Food Rescue" 
The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates food waste in the United States to be about 30 to 40 percent of the food supply.
Desert Harvest fights hunger in the Albuquerque area in an incredibly cost-effective way, by making use of an existing but under-utilized food source: surplus food from restaurants, hotels, schools, and supermarkets that would otherwise be thrown away.
There are many ways of addressing hunger in our country and in our city and state. One of those ways is to collect prepared food that is left over from restaurants, banquets, supermarket delis, nursing home kitchens and bring in a safe and efficient manner to soup kitchens and other operations that provide meals to people who need a meal. Some efforts are coordinated by the National Restaurant Association, the Food Marketing Institute and the Grocery Manufacturers Association via tbe Food Waste Reduction Alliance, a cross-industry effort by restaurateurs, supermarkets, grocery stores and grocery manufacturers to define opportunities to reduce food waste. 

In some ares of the country, sophisticated ways of collecting food have been developed.

A Food Rescue App in New York City (and Albuquerque)
In New York City, the non-profit organization Transfernation uses technology (an app similar to Uber Eats) that allows donors to provide immediate information about the availability of surplus prepared foods. "In the last two years, we have redistributed over 52,000 pounds of food to countless shelters in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx," the organization said on its website.

Well, guess what? There is also an app available in Albuquerque. The service is offered by Food Rescue US, an organization that operates in 17 locations around the country. Read more below.

In Southern California, the San Diego Unified School District has partnered with Feeding San Diego (a counterpart to Roadrunner Food Bank in Albuquerque) to create a food-rescue operation called Love Food Not Waste. The food comes from the school district's prep kitchens. 

In Las Vegas, Nevada, MGM has partnered with Three Square Food Bank to create a new standardized program for safe collection, preservation and service of surplus banquet food that will help reduce hunger in Southern Nevada.  Check out this video.

These are just a handful of examples around the country of innovative ways of rescuing prepared foods.

In Albuquerque, there are at least three food-rescue operations.

Desert Harvest, which is managed by Adelante/The Storehouse, was launched in 2001 to address two needs –- to alleviate hunger in central New Mexico and to provide volunteer opportunities for people with disabilities. Currently, over 80 restaurants, grocers, hotels, food distributors, schools, and caterers donate their over-run food to Desert Harvest recipient agencies, resulting in more than 1 million meals. "At just 4 cents per meal, the program is considered one of the most efficient food recovery programs in the nation! The donated food gets delivered to 15 area agencies that provide meals to people in need."

Food Rescue US (Formerly Community Plates): The organization, which started in 2011, offers an app where restaurants, grocers and food providers can connect with agencies, community kitchens and food pantries. Albuquerque  is of the original locations where Community Plates started. There are now 17 locations (14 cities and three universities) where the service is offered. The organization relies on volunteers to collect and deliver the food. "You’re just an app away from joining the food rescue movement, the organization said on its website. "The Food Rescue US app seamlessly connects food donors, volunteer food rescuers, and receiving agencies. Whatever role you play in the movement, getting healthy food to hungry people has never been simpler."

Roadrunner Food Bank: Collecting prepared foods is a tiny portion of the food bank's overall food rescue operations. The effort was launched in 2014, in partnership with former Mayor Richard Berry's administration, Ovations Food Services, Noon Day Ministries, St. Martin’s Hospitality Center and Joy Junction. The initial effort involved the rescue of food that was left over from the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta and from the Albuquerque Isotopes baseball games. In 2017, Roadrunner rescued 6,280 pounds of prepared foods. The food banks is both contacted and solicits prepared foods from restaurants and other locations that have surpluses. "We follow many food safety guidelines as we comply with all food regulations by FDA, USDA and AIB," said Andy Knowlton, Food Rescue Manager at Roadrunner Food Bank. "We are audited as any other food handling facility is audited." 

Learn More
Learn more about Desert Harvest and Roadrunner Food Bank's food-rescue operations at the next bimonthly meeting of the Interfaith Hunger Coalition. Our guest presenters are  Swarupa Wattlington of Desert Harvest, Brittainy Mullins from Food Rescue US (formerly Community Plates) and Andy Knowlton of Roadrunner Food Bank

Tuesday, May 22
12:00 Noon
First Presbyterian Church

Everyone is welcome! 

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Thank You, Father Patrick Conroy

"As legislation on taxes continues to be debated this week and next, may all Members be mindful that the institutions and structures of our great Nation guarantee the opportunities that have allowed some to achieve great success, while others continue to struggle. May their efforts these days guarantee that there are not winners and losers under new tax laws, but benefits balanced and shared by all Americans."  -Rev. Patrick Conroy, S.J.,(former) chaplain of the House of Representatives.

As a graduate of a Jesuit institution and an anti-hunger and anti-poverty advocate, I am proud of Father Patrick Conroy for the genuine and substantive prayers he offered during his tenure as chaplain of the House of Representatives.

Father Conroy's words went beyond the generic prayers of wishing for well-being.  In much the same way as fellow Jesuit, Pope Francis, Father Conroy's prayers carried a deep desire for justice  and the concept of shalom (the well-being of all society).

By all accounts, Father Conroy was ousted by Speaker Paul Ryan for making his prayers "too political." (If we think of the concept of universal well-being as "political," then The Beatitudes fell in that category, didn't they?)

Regardless, Thank You Father Conroy!

For more background, read what others have written (or tweeted):