New Mexico food bank reflects on 2020 donation from DFA
In 2019, the national average poverty rate was 10.5% — in Portales, N.M., a small college town five hours away from Albuquerque by car, the local average was even higher at 27.8%. In isolated cities like Portales, local food pantries, like Serving New Mexico Community Services Center (SNMCSC), are critical in the fight against hunger.
SNMCSC has been serving the Portales area for 35 years through its food bank and meal site, where individuals can enjoy ready-made hot meals on a pay-what-you-can basis. Each month, SNMCSC serves about 60 families — many of whom are senior citizens or have disabilities that make it difficult to leave their homes.
“Some people just run into hard luck, and they can’t make ends meet until the end of the month,” says Josie Madrid, executive director of SNMCSC.
DFA has a processing plant in Portales that employs 155 people and primarily makes condensed skim, cream, milk permeate power, milk protein concentrate and nonfat and skim milk powders. In 2020, shortly after the Farmers Feeding Families Fund launched, DFA donated a refrigerator to SNMCSC, and the additional cold storage has made a huge difference in the cold storage capacity of the food pantry. Prior to the donation, SNMCSC primarily gave out powdered milk products, or no dairy at all.
“When they see the actual milk versus powdered milk, they get really excited,” Josie says. “We give out cereal, and people want real milk for that — especially kids.”
Josie recalls a time prior to DFA’s donated refrigeration where SNMCSC received a donation of fluid milk — a semi-truck full of milk donations came to the food bank to drop off excess milk, but SNMCSC did not have enough cold storage to accept the donation. Some families were able to meet the semi-truck at the food bank and took a gallon straight off the truck, but Josie says much of SNMCSC’s clientele are unable to leave their homes. Without cold storage, it’s impossible to serve everyone in Portales.
“I want people to know that without donations, it wouldn’t be possible to run this food bank,” Josie says. “What makes it special is that the community recognizes the need, and it does something about it. We’re really proud that DFA reached out to us.”