The Food, Hunger, Water, Agriculture Policy Workgroup has worked for a couple of years to put together this important omnibus legislative initiative to take a comprehensive and long-term approach to addressing hunger in New Mexico.A Press Conference
Organizers brought attention to the initiative by calling a press conference on Friday, February 12. This media event was broadcast live on Facebook and on Zoom. The two lead sponsors, Rep. Joanne Ferrary and Rep. Melanie Stansbury, as well as representatives from several organizations involved in the issue, offered comments during the press briefing.
Others included Kerri Irvin (who has experience food insecurity) Chili Yazzie (Coordinator, Shiprock Traditional Farmers Cooperative), Anita Adalja (Farmer and Produce and Distribution Manager, Agri Cultura Network), and Ellen Buelow (Executive Committee Member, Interfaith Hunger Coalition).
Here is what Robert Nott of the Santa Fe New Mexican, wrote in the Legislative Roundup for Saturday, Feb. 13.
Food bill to be heard: New Mexico ranks near or at the top of most national lists when it comes to hunger issues. Feeding America reports that some 316,000 New Mexicans struggle with hunger every year, and 1 in 4 children faces food insecurity — meaning their families don't have reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food. Several House Democrats banded together to introduce a bill creating a Food, Hunger and Farm Act to address those issues.
House Bill 207 would create a council of tribal, agricultural, educational and governmental leaders, among others, to first look at the state's food assets, agricultural infrastructure, food processing facilities and other entities. That council will develop an emergency relief plan to provide food for an emergency like another pandemic.
"We have to address these problems in a systematic approach," said Rep. Melanie Stansbury, D-Albuquerque, one of the bill's sponsors. "We have to fix the entire system, from the roots to food distribution system to the way food is made available in communities to the actual access of food for individuals and families." The House Agriculture and Water Resources Committee is scheduled to hear the bill Tuesday morning.
On Social Media
There are other ways in which the initiative is getting attention. For example, here is a tweet from the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty (one of the participants in the workgroup)
Food insecurity is a longstanding problem in NM that COVID has worsened. HB 207, sponsored by Reps. Stansbury, Ferrary, Stefanics, & Bash, would directly address causes of food insecurity & strengthen the SNAP program by maximizing federal dollars. https://t.co/JSCn3GbcZ5 #nmleg pic.twitter.com/FWBILbDyGd— NM Center on Law & Poverty (@NMPovertyLaw) February 12, 2021
Another workgroup participant, New Mexico Voices for Children, offered its own tweet.
The Lutheran Advocacy Ministry New Mexico weighed in too
NM has one of the worst food insecurity rates in the nation. This is why we strongly support HB 207, which will help improve food security for communities throughout New Mexico. Thank you sponsors for ensuring that more New Mexicans have access to quality nutritious food! #NMLeg pic.twitter.com/yrYdK80LLs— NM Voices 4 Children (@NMVoices) February 12, 2021
And Carlos Navarro from the Interfaith Hunger Coalition added this tweet from the Press Conference
HB 207! The Farm, Hunger, and Farm Act... key public policy that will advance our state’s efforts to alleviate food insecurity, create resilient food systems and to focus support. Great press conference! pic.twitter.com/wx8dY7r2ym— Lutheran Advocacy NM (@LutheranAdvNM) February 12, 2021
This bill is strengthening our food system...By supporting our local farmers, we can ensure that nutrious food goes to the hungry. Anita Adalja on why Agri-Cultura Network supports HB 207 in #nmlegis #hunger #NewMexico pic.twitter.com/AILUBaxSQv— Carlos Navarro (@CNinABQ) February 12, 2021
Finally, the grassroots organization Retake Our Democracy featured HB 207 prominently.
This ambitious bill would create the Food, Hunger, and Farm Council that would work with multiple state departments, institutions, non-profits, and individuals to develop a statewide strategic plan to assess the effects of hunger, malnutrition, and food and water insecurity in New Mexico.
See full post.