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Editorial: Squier leaves N.M. hungry for real apology

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New Mexico Human Services Secretary Sidonie Squier is sticking with the letters “p-o-o-r-l-y w-o-r-d-e-d” in her alphabet soup of a rationale for saying there is not and never has been hunger in New Mexico.

She should eat them instead.

Because Squier’s original comment was very clearly worded indeed and her apology insufficient. She emailed state administrators reviewing a draft report of the New Mexico Hunger Task Force that “since there has never been and is not now any significant evidence of hunger in N.M., I would offer that the focus of the report should be on getting proper nutrition to children (and adults).”

If that doesn’t say nobody’s hungry here, they just eat unhealthy stuff, then what does?

The initial comment, and her inability to truly apologize for it, lend credence to the concern raised by Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, who asks how Squier can effectively manage the food stamp program for the state without recognizing the prevalence of hunger.

In point of fact, the Census Bureau says only Mississippi had a poverty rate higher than New Mexico in 2012. One in four New Mexicans is on Medicaid. Nonprofit Feeding America ranks New Mexico second-to-worst in the nation for both child hunger and general food insecurity. Roadrunner Food Bank gave out more than 23 million pounds of food last year.

That data would lead one to believe people are poor and hungry here, not simply full of the wrong stuff.

Well, except for Squier.

After telling the Legislative Finance Committee on Friday that “I do agree that there are hungry children in New Mexico. I have always thought that,” Squier then told reporters that “I did say the words (in the email), I’m not backing away from it, but they did not intend to say that (hunger is not an issue).”

But that’s what they said. The secretary needs to go back to her alphabet soup and try again with a more sincere “s-o-r-r-y” the New Mexicans living with and those combating hunger deserve.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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