Homeless shelters and food pantries around New Mexico are reporting that their supplies have reached low levels as more state residents seek help.
Albuquerque’s Joy Junction, the state’s largest emergency homeless shelter, and El Caldito Soup Kitchen in Las Cruces both said their food supplies are experiencing serious strains due to the region’s troubled economy and the extra meals that are being requested.
Jeremy Reynalds, Joy Junction founder and CEO, said breakfast batters, juice, coffee, sugar, eggs and other breakfast items have been all but depleted. “Lunch and dinner are not in much better condition, with supplies of canned goods and dry foods also being drained rapidly,” said Reynalds. “We need everything.”
The shelter’s “Lifeline of Hope” lunch wagon feeds a number of families living in Albuquerque hotels and serves around 16,000 a month. In addition, Reynalds said the shelter is operating at capacity with more than 300 people seeking shelter every evening. The shelter said it often turns away a dozen or so people every day.
Gabe Anaya, vice president of El Caldito, said the southern New Mexico kitchen is serving nearly 300 people a day, almost double from just a few years ago. Anaya said the kitchen is seeing more young residents, even college graduates, seeking help because of the bad economy.
“We have an engineer who comes in every once in a while for help,” said Anaya. “He just can’t find work.”
Anaya said the kitchen’s food levels are “low, but manageable.” However, he worries what will happen to the kitchen’s ability to serve if the economy doesn’t improve and donations don’t increase.
But Anaya said he is experiencing “some hope” as November and December approach, as donations increase around the holiday season.
New Mexico remains one of the poorest states in the nation and had the poverty rate of 18.6 percent in 2010, according to the U.S. Census. That’s higher than the state’s pre-recession level of 14.0 percent in 2007.