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Photo: CoreVisual / AFSC
Photo: Sayrah Namaste / AFSC
Photo: Sayrah Namaste / AFSC
Photo: Sayrah Namaste / AFSC
Photo: Sayrah Namaste / AFSC

In response to the pandemic, the local nonprofit organization American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) – in partnership with New Mexico farmers and food banks – created the very successful “Farm to Food Bank” project to support small farmers and communities left hungry by the pandemic.

When the pandemic hit, New Mexico’s local farmers had fresh produce but less customers due to the economic downturn (closing of restaurants, farmers markets, etc.). And food banks faced a decrease in donations and a large increase in demand. AFSC’s Farm to Food Bank filled the gap by purchasing food from 30 small-scale sustainable New Mexico family farms and delivering the food to local food banks and shelters. AFSC also provided PPE, seeds and supplies to farmers at the start of the pandemic and in exchange, the farmers “paid it back” with produce.

Funding from Bernalillo County was instrumental in being able to pay farmers a fair price and donate approximately 12,600 lbs. (almost 7 tons) of local food to the pantries and shelter who could then distribute it to those most needing it from April 2020-September 2021. (A total of almost 22,000 lbs. of produce was purchased and donated statewide). It is unusual for the food pantries to receive freshly harvested, organic produce so this model would be wonderful to have beyond the pandemic. The feedback from farmers and staff who distributed food through food banks, pantries and shelters was that they would like this to continue post-pandemic since it is a “win-win” for all involved.

Participating Farms:

In Bernalillo County: Casa Fresco Farm, Chispas Farm, Los Jardines de Moktezuma, Organicos Farm, Amyo Farms, La Plazita Gardens, North Valley Organics, Mountain View Community Garden, Agri-Cultura Network (which purchases from at least 28 farms in Bernalillo County not already listed) 

Food Pantries: 

In Bernalillo County: Roadrunner Food Bank, East Central Ministries, HopeWorks, S.A.F.E. House, Joy Junction, Mountainview halfway house

Funders: AFSC, Lydia B. Stokes Foundation, Bernalillo County, 120+ individual donors

Logistics:

AFSC-NM staff communicated with farmers each week to find out what produce they had available; then communicated weekly with food banks and pantries to ensure that produce sent to them was wanted and could be processed and distributed. Staff then worked with farmers to place orders and coordinate the best way to get their produce to the food bank/pantry. Three options were: 1) staff picked up produce from farms and delivered directly to food bank; 2) farmers delivered produce to AFSC office in Albuquerque then staff delivered to food banks; 3) farmers delivered produce directly to food bank and sent AFSC receipt to be compiled with other documentation. Farmers invoiced AFSC for produce provided and AFSC paid farmers directly. AFSC invoiced Bernalillo County with documentation showing paid invoices from farmers and receipts from food banks. Staff fundraised from individuals and private foundations but the funding from Bernalillo County was the most significant.

Testimonials about Farm to Food Bank: 

“Without this opportunity, we wouldn’t have made it through these tough times.” Joseph Alfaro, South Valley farmer

“Farm to Food Bank allowed us to keep on our crew; we didn’t have to lay off any workers but kept them on at a living wage. The program helped us provide stable employment and decrease food waste while supporting the folks in our community who need this fresh, nutritious food the most!“ Casey Holland, South Valley farmer

“I hope Farm to Foodbank will continue even after the pandemic has passed. Virus or no virus, we should be doing more locally to meet that demand. I feel good that we’re helping a humongous need.” Fidel Gonzalez, South Valley farmer and trainer for BernCo Grow the Growers

“By far my favorite client. As a small farm, we need top dollar for our product, which limits our client base to those who can afford to pay. It is a pleasure and honor to be able to see our food go to those who wouldn't necessarily have access to our product at a price point we need to stay in business.” Jesse Daves, South Valley farmer

“Farm to Food Bank is an amazing program that has given our farm another outlet that we have needed during this pandemic.” Chris Chavez, South Valley farmer & graduate of BernCo Grow the Growers program 

 “These wonderful donations have provided such a great variety for clients! My clients are thrilled with the local goodies. We have really appreciated this partnership and collaboration.” Shelbie Corriz, Roadrunner Food Bank

“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. This is a very unprecedented time. As we continue to see unemployment climb in our state, that’s very concerning to us. With higher unemployment happening, we expect to see food lines continue to be long and see new faces to hunger.” Sonya Warwick, Roadrunner Food Bank

Media coverage:

• 3 minute video with farmers and AFSC: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQuvOSazMoE&feature=emb_imp_woyt 

• “New Mexico Farmers Help Local Food Banks in Exchange for Supplies.” By Grace Reader.  KOB Channel 4. https://www.kob.com/albuquerque-news/new-mexico-farmers-help-local-food-...

• “Bridging the Nutrition Gap: Effort underway to benefit farms, food banks.”By Theresa Davis.  The Albuquerque Journal.  https://www.abqjournal.com/1440622/bridging-the-nutrition-gap.html 

• “From farms to food banks: New initiative seeks to aid state’s struggling growers as well as the hungry.” By Olivia Harlow. The Santa Fe New Mexican.  https://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/from-farms-to-food-ban...

• “Quaker Group Connects N.M. Organic Farmers With Food Banks During COVID Outbreak.”  By Nash Jones, KUNM public radio. https://www.kunm.org/post/quaker-group-connects-nm-organic-farmers-food-...

• “The Farm to Food Bank Movement Aims to Rescue Small-Scale Farming and Feed the Hungry: Across the country, grassroots and regional programs are paying farmers to harvest surplus crops to meet skyrocketing demand.” By Lynne Curry. Civil Eats.  https://civileats.com/2020/05/14/the-farm-to-food-bank-movement-aims-to-...

• “Farm To Food Bank Brings Fresh Eggs To NM Families” by Carol Clark, Los Alamos Daily Post: https://ladailypost.com/farm-to-food-bank-brings-fresh-eggs-to-nm-famili...

 

More information:

American Friends Service Committee New Mexico

630 Isleta Blvd SW  Albuquerque NM   505-842-7343

www.afsc.org/newmexico         facebook.com/afscnm

 

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