Summer break will be here before you know it. And for some children it means going hungry too often.
“This is America, and this is New Mexico, and we should not be putting our kids to bed when they are still hungry,” Gov. Susana Martinez said in support of efforts to provide more federally funded meals for kids during the summer.
The governor spoke at an event hosted by the nonprofit New Mexico Appleseed to highlight the need for organizations to step up and distribute the meals. Summer meals are particularly important to low-income kids who get much of their nutrition at school. When school’s out, hunger can become a daily problem.
Summer meals require both a site and a sponsor. Sponsors can be schools, nonprofits or local government branches. Sites can be apartment complexes, parks, libraries, pools, schools, community centers or other places where children gather.
The summer food service program is operated in the state by the Children, Youth and Families Department in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In Albuquerque, CYFD and the city partner to distribute food at about 170 sites.
Rural areas are in particular need of sponsors and sites, especially in Doña Ana, McKinley and San Juan counties.
CYFD and New Mexico Appleseed are also working with Central New Mexico Community College, which will give credit to high school and CNM students who help distribute food and teach about fitness and nutrition over the summer.
New Mexico Appleseed Executive Director Jenny Ramo says New Mexico has always had pockets of poverty, but is now “truly in a state of emergency. …We must find a way to get our children food, and we are in luck. The USDA now has programs to ensure that almost every meal for hungry children can be covered. … Appleseed’s goal, in partnership with the state, counties, cities and school districts of New Mexico, is to make sure those children can get that food.”
While New Mexico outstrips the nation in providing free meals to students who qualify, the state can do more. To learn more about becoming a summer food site or sponsor, visit www.nmappleseed.org.
Let’s not let New Mexico’s children go hungry.
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.