In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we launched our “Farm to Food Bank” project on March 31st, the birthday of Cesar Chavez.
Farmers have food, but many of their markets (like restaurants) are no longer buying perishable produce. Food banks are experiencing unprecedented need. AFSC is bridging that gap.
AFSC New Mexico is supporting 30 small scale sustainable farms that we work with across the state to support them in growing food for those with the least access. We purchased more than 15,000 pounds of their produce at a fair price and donated it to Roadrunner Food Bank and several food pantries around the state. We also supplied farmers with seeds and farm materials, as well as new safety items like face masks and gloves, and they in turn provide a portion of the food they grow to the local food pantries..
Across our state, food banks are seeing a large increase in need for food as unemployment grows, yet they are also seeing a decrease in donations as grocery stores are trying to keep their shelves stocked and as a result, are donating less. Senior citizens are relying on agencies and nonprofits to deliver food to reduce their risk of contracting COVID-19 by avoiding going into grocery stores.
AFSC launched the campaign by purchasing fresh vegetables from the Agri-Cultura Network, a cooperative of small scale sustainable farms, and delivering their food to Roadrunner Foodbank, the largest foodbank in New Mexico. The campaign expanded to to include more small scale sustainable New Mexican farms and more relief agencies and food banks in Albuquerque, Espanola and Taos. As of October we have purchased more than 6 tons of local produce for the food pantries. We are pleased to have support from individual donors, a private foundation, and Bernalillo County in this work.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: APRIL 2, 2020
Farm to Food Bank Program Connects Local Farmers to People in Need During COVID-19
ALBUQUERQUE, NM (April 2, 2020) The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) – in partnership with New Mexico farmers and food banks – launched the Farm to Foodbank project. New Mexico’s sustainable farmers have fresh produce but less customers due to stay-at-home orders in response to COVID-19. And food banks are facing a decrease in donations and a large increase in demand. AFSC is filling this gap by purchasing fresh vegetables from the Agri-Cultura Network, a cooperative of small-scale sustainable farms, and delivering the food to Roadrunner Food bank, the largest food bank in New Mexico
“The Coronavirus affected my sales,” explains South Valley farmer Fidel Gonzalez. “So I’m happy to have my produce go to the people who need it most through Farm to Foodbank.”
AFSC will be supporting small-scale sustainable farms across the state, including supplying farmers with seeds and farm materials, as well as new safety items like face masks and gloves. The farms will in turn provide a portion of the food they grow to the local foodbanks and senior centers.
“Farmers and food banks are both at the forefront of keeping people healthy during this global pandemic,” explains Sayrah Namaste, the director of AFSC’s New Mexico program. “Helping make the link between those who grow food and those who need it is a concrete, practical action we can take to help mitigate the fallout from COVID-19 and support and strengthen our communities.”
Food banks have seen a surge in demand as unemployment increases across the country. “With so many new faces joining the unemployment lines, food banks and our statewide network of food pantry like locations, we anticipate that hunger will remain high in our state for quite some time,” said Mag Strittmatter, president and CEO of Roadrunner Food Bank." The Farm to Foodbank program will help continue to provide low-income and poverty stricken New Mexicans access to nutritious food. Every pound of donated product we receive during this pandemic will help us respond to increased hunger by so families in this time of crisis.”
Supporting sustainable farming is also important to New Mexico communities, and helps build local economies over the long term. “Our mission is to grow food with sustainable regenerative methods and make locally grown fruits and vegetables accessible and equitable for communities in need,” said Helga Garcia-Garza, Director of the Agri-Cultura Network. “We are partnering with the Roadrunner Food Bank, AFSC and other food advocates to find solutions to obstacles such as transportation and farm to market supply chain.”
The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker organization that includes people of various faiths who are committed to social justice, peace and humanitarian service. Its work is based on the belief in the worth of every person and faith in the power of love to overcome violence and injustice