Brad Brown grew up in a family that made a tradition of giving. Two years ago, a Martineztown neighbor arrived at his door with a pair of shoes to sell: The man needed the money to buy food for his family. Brown’s concern took immediate form when he gave his partner, Mike Griego, a birthday present—a Roadrunner Food Bank mobile pantry in Martineztown. A seedling fund of $100 got it started, and it’s since become a community commitment.
Now two years into the program, Brown and Griego offload about 2,500 pounds of meats, fruit, veggies and boxed cereal to feed roughly 50 to 85 families per truckload. Each trip calls for a $150 maintenance fee that goes toward the overhead of distributing the food. They set up their site in a parking lot at the Martineztown House of Neighborly Service at the corner of Edith and Lomas. Families arrive and sign up while the goods are sorted onto a half-dozen tables.
Among the 20 or so volunteers, Griego brings about 10 of his fourth and fifth grade students from Our Lady of Annunciation Catholic School to help with the sorting and packing. Students are also eligible to receive the food. People bring shopping carts and boxes, and they can receive up to 50 pounds, depending on what’s been put on the truck. Nothing goes to waste. Roadrunner takes any remaining food to a partner organization that can use the excess distribution.
Roadrunner’s Mobile Food Pantry program got started with only a handful of locations. The intent was to reach areas that were more rural and not in the urban service areas. During the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2010, 3 million pounds of food were distributed to 163,000 people, mostly in 12 northern New Mexico counties. That breaks down to 52,800 households, with 43 percent of recipients being children. Roadrunner hopes to extend services further south in the coming year.
Anyone can sponsor a distribution site. Art Fine, director of programs at Roadrunner, says the largest corporate donor distributes as much as 20,000 pounds twice a year. Individuals such as Brown and Griego do 2,500 pounds, twice a month, year-round. Their donation is now supported by a group of like-minded friends. The minimum pantry is 2,500 pounds per distribution, whatever the frequency.
Roadrunner will deliver the food to a site designated by the sponsor. The sponsor must provide the space, along with volunteers to set up and hand out the food. They’re also in charge of identifying their area’s needy families. Each site may vary slightly in the guidelines that determine who qualifies for distribution.
Interested in setting up a mobile pantry? Contact Alissa Wolfe at 349-8937 or Joe Gatti at 349-8853. For information about Roadrunner Food Bank of New Mexico, visit rrfb.org.