First-Ever City/County Collaborative Provides Dinner to Children
Albuquerque- About 50% of today’s children are at risk to become overweight or obese adults, statistics show. That’s one of the reasons City and County officials are joining forces with New Mexico Appleseed to provide a program that gives underprivileged children healthy, balanced dinners; which of course improves the children’s development and energy while also decreasing the chance that the child will incorporate poor eating habits into their adult life.
Today, Mayor Richard J. Berry and County Commissioner Maggie Hart Stebbins with New Mexico Appleseed Executive Director Jenny Ramo announced the After School Meals Program. The trio kicked off the program by serving meals to participating children at the Barelas Community Center in southwest Albuquerque. The program is expected to feed tens of thousands of meals to the hundreds of children involved. When the pilot program launched last year it operated in nine facilities, running for about 14 days. In that two week period more than 400 kids were served. This After School Meal Program compliments several long-standing meal programs, like: the Summer Breakfast and Lunch programs, the Early Childhood programs, and in conjunction with the snacks provided in all of the After School programs, but it is the first-ever City and County collaborative to provide the important meal of dinner.
"So many children in our community go home to empty refrigerators and cupboards,” said Ramo. “The new afterschool meal program offers a wonderful new opportunity for children to get a healthy third meal, if they need it, with a bonus that more children may participate in afterschool programs. Both the programs and the food will help our children grow and thrive."
“It is so heartbreaking to see anyone suffering from hunger, especially children, who don’t have the means to provide for themselves. What makes the After School Meal Program special is that this gives us one last chance to ensure our children have a healthy, satisfying meal at the end of the day before sending them home,” said Mayor Berry. “Well-balanced meals help in the development of motor and developmental skills; giving these kids energy, brain power, and ultimately a higher quality of life and a greater chance of success.”
“I'm grateful to Jennifer Ramo and NM Appleseed for their vision, inspiration, and dedication to making this program a reality. Bernalillo County and the City of Albuquerque are now providing healthy, substantial meals to vulnerable children in our community who might be going hungry at home,” says County Commissioner Maggie Hart Stebbins. “This is a great example of public-private partnerships that invest in our children and make a real difference in their lives.”
New Mexico Appleseed works on the systemic level to design, test, and implement practical solutions to difficult issues. While many organizations serve meals, educate children, and assist the poor, New Mexico Appleseed is unique in its focus on systemic change (as opposed to direct service). Their method strives to correct structural barriers to opportunity by designing and advocating for effective solutions through policy, legislative, and market-based reform. Focusing on issues like hunger, education and homelessness, New Mexico Appleseed’s goal is to make systemic change that yields permanent or long term improvement for the poor and underserved.