Food bank director says donations down
Food has been more scarce than it should be for the Food Bank of Eastern New Mexico, according to executive director MelindaJoy Pattison.
Pattison said donations to the local post office food drive totaled 6,000 pounds this year compared to 13,000 pounds in the 2013 drive.
link Staff photo: Tony Bullocks
Inventory and Receiving Clerk Mida Cadena of Clovis cleans, inspects, and sorts donations at the Food Bank of Eastern New Mexico.
“The need for food by folks in the five-county area we serve never goes down,” Pattison said. “The number of hungry households only increases monthly. There’s never enough food to cover that completely and there’s never enough money to cover that completely.”
Pattison said food banks around the state are experiencing shortages.
“I think people become immune sometimes; they stop hearing the message,” she said. “When you hear the same message over and over, you do become immune. We just have to keep finding more of those folks who are willing to support this cause.”
She said one of the hardest hit programs with lack of food donations is the backpack program that serves 24 Clovis and Portales schools. The food bank program gives a bag of food to each student from lower income families every Friday to take home for the weekend.
Pattison said school faculty members identify how many children are in need and the food bank never knows names.
She said over the last school year, the food bank delivered backpacks for 567 children every week, meaning they made 20,000 backpacks for the year. She added that food bank personnel expect that number to increase by at least 15 percent next year. When not enough donations are made, the food bank has to buy the rest.
“I’ve heard in the office that for some of our kids, this could very well be the only food they have for the weekend,” said Arts Academy at Bella Vista Secretary Corine Ulibarri. “Some of those kids really look forward to that every Friday and they won’t forget.”
Ulibarri said students will come to the office and ask about their bags if they do not receive them on Friday because they are counting on having them.
Principal Shelly Norris said the program is needed.
“At the end of the day, anythng we can do as a school to help take care of our kids is what it’s really about,” Norris said. “They’re our most precious commodity. That’s one of those issues we can control within the school.”
Cameo Elementary Secretary Sharon Bocox said a lot of her school’s students are low income, so the program is welcomed and appreciated.
“I do think that it’s a good thing and I wish that we could do it for more of our kids,” she said.