BOSQUE FARMS—In less than an hour, 150 Valencia County families received healthy food at a drive-through, contactless distribution Saturday morning.
The distribution, held by Roadrunner Food Bank in partnership with Wells Fargo Bank, was the first of four to be held in the village of Bosque Farms in August and September.
“A lot of the agencies we partner with are closed now or if they’ve had a chance to open back up, their supply isn’t fully there,” said Sonya Warwick, communications officer for Roadrunner Food Bank.
Warwick said the partnership with Wells Fargo and the decision to hold the distributions in Bosque Farms was a matter of fortuitous timing.
The food bank knew there was a need in Valencia County, with thousands of households experiencing food insecurity for much of the year and the bank wanted to be part of a national effort to address that, she said.
With families losing income through layoffs and decreased hours due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Warwick said RRFB has seen increased use of their services.
“In so many of our counties, we have 30 percent or more of our children that could be dealing with food insecurity,” she said.
According to the Feeding America Map the Meal Gap project’s 2018 data, the most recent available, Valencia County has a child food insecurity rate of 23.1 percent.
The map project shows in that year, there were 10,520 food insecure people in Valencia County, 4,200 of which were children.
Food insecurity is a periodic lack of access to enough food and limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate foods.
“Americans around the country are hurting right now as they try to make ends meet due to the deep economic impact of COVID-19,” said Bill Daley, vice chairman of Public Affairs at Wells Fargo.
“One of the biggest challenges in the current environment is getting food to those who need it most. That’s why Wells Fargo is using the broad reach of our locations … to help distribute food and increase accessibility for families facing hunger.”
Warwick said the distributions are as contactless as possible, with clients opening and closing their own vehicle doors or trunks so volunteers can load in the food.
Out of work since March 7, Steve Pace, of Albuquerque, decided he needed to volunteer with the food bank, both at its warehouse and at distributions.
“I can last until probably February; I’ll be OK,” said Pace, who does TV and video production for concerts and large events. “But I know there are a lot of people in need. My goal is to get out and help.”
At Saturday’s distribution, Christina Flores was both a volunteer and a client. After helping hand out food to others, she joined the que and picked up supplies for herself and her sister, who has three sons.
“I’m just going to get what I need then get back down to help,” Flores said with a laugh.
Ariel Niner was also there to help others, bringing her client to the distribution, as well as picking up food for her client’s daughter.
“Both are disabled. We can’t all go to the store,” Niner said. “So we have to find things that are available for them.”
A disabled veteran who receives $1,000 a month, Earl Williams said that doesn’t go far, so he came to Saturday’s distribution. In addition, he’s raising his 15-year-old grandson.
RRFB clients can preregister online by visiting the organization’s website, rrfb.org, and clicking on the Link2Feed Login button at the top of the page.
Warwick said while preregistering doesn’t guarantee someone a place in line, it will speed up check in.
Julia M. Dendinger began working at the VCNB in 2006. She covers Valencia County government, Belen Consolidated Schools and the village of Bosque Farms. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists Rio Grande chapter’s board of directors.