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New Mexico food banks prepare to buy millions of meals

New Mexico food banks will be able to provide more meals for thousands of families with an infusion of $5 million in funding as part of an economic relief package approved by state lawmakers and signed by the governor.

Mag Strittmatter, president and CEO of Roadrunner Food bank in Albuquerque, called the legislation significant given that 1 in 3 children and 1 in 5 New Mexicans overall are at risk of hunger amid the ongoing pandemic.

“We will all be able to acquire the many millions of meals needed to help the growing number of food insecure neighbors in the state, while in the throes of this pandemic. We are so grateful to all who helped make this possible,” she said in a statement.

In northern New Mexico, officials at The Food Bank said that along with unemployment, the need for emergency food assistance has increased during the pandemic. The Food Bank and its nonprofit partners moved about 7.8 million pounds of food in the first nine months of the year.

The city of Albuquerque reported Wednesday that it has served more than 500,000 meals to older people since March, including Thanksgiving lunches that were distributed this week. Home-delivered and drive-through meals are two of the essential services for seniors that the city has maintained during the pandemic.

In all, city officials say they’ve seen a 114% increase in meals served between March 1 and Oct. 31.