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Giving back: Michigan brewery donating $8,000 to three New Mexico food banks

Bell’s Brewery, in collaboration with Premier Distributing Co., is donating $8,000 to three New Mexico food banks. (Courtesy of Bell’s Brewery)

Bell’s Brewery is giving back to New Mexico communities as a way of saying “thank you” for the support it has received in the Land of Enchantment.

The Michigan brewery has teamed up with local Premiere Distributing Co. to donate $8,000 to three New Mexico food banks as part of the “Feeding Our Backyard” campaign. Storehouse New Mexico in Albuquerque will receive $5,200. Casa de Peregrinos in Las Cruces will get $1,200, and The Food Depot in Santa Fe will acquire $1,600, according to Silas Sims, Bell’s Brewery area sales manager for New Mexico and West Texas.

“Bell’s may not be local, you know; we just, we’re trying to show that we care about the communities that we serve,” Sims said. “… This is kind of the first program. But I’ve already heard a lot of good things within the company that we’re going to look to expand this further into the rest of the country. And so it can really end up being a great thing for people all across the country.”

Albertsons and Total Wine stores, as well as Jubilation Wine & Spirits, will display posters with QR codes that customers can scan to learn more about how they support the cause benefiting the selected New Mexico food banks. The promotion will run from Sunday, Nov. 22, through Dec. 31.

“They’ll be doing displays of our core beers since we’re not making a specific beer for this program, per se, but they’ll be putting up displays,” Sims said. “And overall, what we’re really trying to do as well is to try to get the community to match us on this program. So each charity has provided us with a QR code to put it on the posters that we put out in the market. And this QR code will go directly to a donation site in the respective markets.”

Bell’s Brewery has done lots of charity work over the years, but this is the first run for “Feeding Our Backyard.”

“A lot of our partners out there are, you know, bars, restaurants, hotels, there’s a lot of staff that has promoted our products in the past and are our partners in business,” Sims said. “They’re out of work right now and need help. And so that’s kind of where it came together. And we chose New Mexico as our first run at this due to the fact that New Mexico ranks 50th in hunger. So it’s a community that absolutely needs it and we want to show support.”

“Feeding Our Backyard” is the brainchild of Sims, who sent proposals about the cause to his company Bell’s Brewery and to Premiere Distributing. Both jumped on board. Sims’ inspiration for the cause came from his experience of being homeless and living on the streets of Albuquerque in his teens.

“I, just for myself, I empathize because I was homeless from age 16 to 20, so I’ve been through this before,” Sims said. “… I got out of a really big hole, that’s for sure. … Because I was so young, I didn’t really know about (food banks). There were weeks that I lived off of Taco Bell sauce packets that friends would throw at me when they were eating their food. So it was it was, you know, I’m not going to get too much into my past, but I mean, I did not know about them. If I had, I probably would have absolutely utilized it for sure.”

Bell’s Brewery is not local but it did have humble beginnings such as many New Mexico breweries. The brewery just celebrated its 35th year of operation.

“We started as a small, little, tiny brewery, just like most of the New Mexico breweries here, working off a 10-gallon soup pot in the corner of a wall,” Sims said. “Now we’re the seventh-largest craft brewery in the country, still family-owned, 100% independent, not owned by any major company out there. So it’s still the same owner that started it all those years ago and his son and his daughter, the other primary shareholders. So it’s a family business, even though we’re at the size that we are. But, yeah, we’ve just been a strong proponent. We put a lot of effort into the quality of our beer, a lot of effort into sustainability and reducing our carbon footprint out there. We have a lot of a lot of things that are going towards just making the world a better place and providing the best beer that we possibly can.”

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