In March, AFSC launched the Farm to Foodbank Project in New Mexico to connect local small-scale farmers with area food banks struggling to meet the rising need in this pandemic. Since then, we have provided 680 pounds of local, fresh produce—reaching thousands of community members who might otherwise go without. None of this would be possible without the support of the AFSC community and our partners.
As stay-at-home orders took effect in New Mexico, many of the farmers we have long worked with lost markets like restaurants and schools and worried whether their farms would survive. At the same time, food banks faced a surge in demand as more people turned to them for assistance.
Thanks to supporters like you, AFSC has been able to bridge this gap, first by purchasing fresh vegetables from 15 sustainable farms and delivering the food to Roadrunner Food Bank—the largest food bank in New Mexico—as well as East Central Ministries food pantry, which serves primarily immigrants. And second, by supplying farmers with seeds and farm materials, as well as safety items like face masks and gloves. The farms are providing a portion of the food they grow to local relief agencies in return.
One participating farmer, Matthew, told us: “This is a really awesome program. Financial support at this time is very helpful to our farm.”
Every Wednesday since the Farm to Food Bank launched, I’ve enjoyed delivering boxes and bags of locally grown vegetables to the Roadrunner Food Bank, including asparagus, carrots, beets, turnips, radishes, and lettuce. Food bank staff have told me they have never received such a high-quality produce, since typically food donations are near expiration when they receive them.
Support from Farm to Food Bank came at a critical time for Roadrunner Food Bank, which has already spent double its annual food purchase budget in just one month. The CEO of Roadrunner shared: “Any time we can get access to nutritious food—especially local, nutritious food—is wonderful. When people are willing to raise their hands in times of difficulties like these, it helps, for sure, to provide nutritious food that is very much needed right now.”
I’ve also enjoyed sharing that enthusiasm and gratitude with the farmers who grow this nutritious food, which is now on the dinner tables of many individuals and families in our communities. Another participating farmer, Fidel, who is also a graduate of AFSC’s farmer training program, said: “I feel good that we’re helping a humongous need.”
Every day, I’ve been moved by growing local support for Farm to Foodbank—from the County of Bernalillo, which has pledged funding, to our area synagogue, Nahalat Shalom, which organized a fundraiser for our project. And I’m grateful for the dozens of individuals across the U.S. who have donated to our efforts.
Farmers and food banks are key to keeping people healthy during this pandemic and year-round. And connecting those who grow food and those who need it is a concrete, practical way for us to mitigate the devastating effects of COVID-19 and strengthen our communities.
With your continued support, our Farm to Food Bank project will grow to support more farmers—and assist more people who need food assistance. That includes providing technical assistance to farmers and nonprofits in other areas of the state who were inspired by our project—as well as consulting with government agencies, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which is interested in replicating our efforts in other parts of the country.
For updates and photos on Farm to Food Bank, check out AFSC New Mexico’s Facebook page.
In the media
- The Farm to Food Bank movement aims to rescue small-scale farming and feed the hungry (Civil Eats)
- Quaker group connects New Mexico organic farmers with food banks during COVID outbreak (KUNM/NPR)
- New Mexico farmers help local food banks in exchange for supplies (Ch. 4 KOB)
- Bridging the nutrition gap (Albuquerque Journal)