“Food insecurity” is the polite term for not knowing where your next meal might come from. According to Feeding America, the biggest non-profit network of food banks, “food insecurity” defines the lives of as many as one out of every three children in the state of New Mexico today.
Persistent hunger, or the unending fear of it, defines adult lives; but for children, hunger can also define the future, stunting size and strength and in some, cognitive capacity. And that estimate, that as many as one-third of this state’s children couldn’t tell you where tomorrow’s dinner would come from, not to mention lunch and breakfast, was made before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
How many New Mexican kids are going hungry now as the vulnerability-seeking missile of a pandemic makes every problem worse? It’s hard to know for sure, but you can put these data into your equation – at Santa Fe’s Food Depot, before COVID-19, about 1200 people a week took food packages. By the end of April, that number had more than tripled to almost 3800.
The Food Depot is a bright star in the universe of New Mexico groups fighting hunger the old-fashioned way, by putting food into hungry people’s hands. But not all the groups are as established as The Food Depot. As the threats and constraints from COVID-19 continue, probably even grow, over another three, six or nine months, how many of today’s hunger-fighters will sustain the will and the funding to keep serving?
Elizabeth Miller is a New Mexico-based freelance journalist who writes frequently for NM in Depth. She describes her work as “writing about environmental issues, outdoor sports, and whatever other rabbit holes on science, art, and public health I fall into.”
Miller’s work has won Society of Professional Journalists Top of the Rockies awards for environment, science, and arts reporting and Association of Alternative Newsweeklies awards for investigative and beat reporting. She received a “Next Generation Professional” grant from the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, and fellowships through the National Press Foundation and the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. Elizabeth Miller is based in Santa Fe, New Mexico.