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Youth ranch fights childhood hunger with meat donation

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Galloping Grace Youth Ranch co-founder Max Wade, far left, and some of his ranch workers at Roadrunner Food Bank, presenting 300 pounds of pork in late May. (Rio Rancho Observer—GARY HERRON photo)

Galloping Grace Youth Ranch co-founder Max Wade, far left, and some of his ranch workers at Roadrunner Food Bank, presenting 300 pounds of pork in late May. (Rio Rancho Observer—GARY HERRON photo)

ALBUQUERQUE — Three hundred pounds of pork might not sound like a lot of meat, but try telling that to the 100 or so families that will benefit from it.

Max Wade, co-founder and chief executive officer of the nonprofit Galloping Grace Youth Ranch in Rio Rancho, and a few dozen youngsters who were visiting the ranch — and working hard — made a trip to Roadrunner Food Bank on the afternoon of May 29 for a short news presentation. There, they presented the pork and vowed to continue to donate fresh meat, eggs and produce throughout the year, which ultimately will be distributed throughout New Mexico to people who need help with food.

At the food bank’s building in northeast Albuquerque, Roadrunner CEO Teresa Johansen told how excited her food bank was to receive the donation and explained the new partnership between the food bank and GGYR.

The ranch’s Community Supported Agricultural program, which happily accepts donations from supporters, will give meat, eggs and crops to Roadrunner.

In turn, the food bank, which composts food no longer suitable for human consumption, will supply the ranch with the composted product to feed GGYR livestock.

Johansen said she started thinking about a partnership with GGYR last year at a food scrap forum covering production to composting, and realized, “Hey, we should have collaboration.”

She led a tour through the food bank’s huge warehouse, cooler and freezer, where tons of food are stacked for distribution. Sixteen trucks in Roadrunner’s fleet travel 1.5 million miles annually collecting food.

Johansen said the food bank receives about 2.5 million pounds of food each month, and “about half of it is perishable.” Drivers make about 50 pick-ups daily, and what is gathered is brought back to the food bank and sorted to “get the perishables out in 36 hours.”

Because some of the donated food — coming from grocery stores, bakeries and so forth —sometimes approaches expiration dates, she said, “If we can’t use if for humans, can we use it for animals? (Roadrunner sends a lot of meat to the wolf sanctuary near Ramah, for example.) If we can’t use it for animals, can we use it for compost?”

Or, as Wade said, “Grow food with food that’s already grown.”

Anything not winding up in the landfill is good for everyone.

Wade said he estimates 2,000 kids will be visiting GGYR this summer, all getting the chance for an up-close experience with livestock and an education in what he termed the “agriculture spectrum.”

“I hope we can educate hundreds and hundreds of kids,” he said.

He said he’d already learned a lot about Roadrunner Food Bank: “It’s unbelievable what they’ve been able to do on a daily basis.”

“The next few years should be really fun,” Johansen said.

According to GGYR’s CSA program, a monthly donation of $10 enables the ranch to produce and donate 30 dozen eggs, recycle 540 pounds of food and educate hundreds of children about agriculture.

In CSA, consumers commit to paying the farmer (in this case GGYR) in regular installments in return for regular shares of produce, dairy, eggs or lump-sum amounts of meat.

The partnership helps consumers gain access to locally grown, healthy food products while involving the consumer in the process, creating more of a connection between the consumer and the origin of his/her food.

When GGYR has produce or animal products ready to be consumed, it’s donated to food-support organizations like Roadrunner Food Bank, which, in turn, gives it to members of the community who need help feeding their families.

“Instead of receiving shares of produce and meat, our CSA members receive the gratification of contributing to a cause that is far more reaching than tonight’s dinner salad or tomorrow’s barbecue,” Wade explained. “These donations enable GGYR to offer and operate the only program of this kind in our community.”

Donations are tax-deductible; GGYR is also in need of a skid-steer loader. (ggyr.org)

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