Dept. of Agriculture to purchase over $126 million in fresh produce for food banks

Posted at: 01/13/2014 5:29 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

The war on hunger in New Mexico is getting badly needed fresh ammunition.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced plans to purchase more than $126 million in fresh produce, and distribute it to food banks around the nation.  New Mexico’s Roadrunner Food bank will be getting a substantial share, USDA officials say, because of the state’s economic reality.

“Those states that have a high poverty level also have a high hunger level,” said USDA regional administrator Bill Ludwig, touring the Roadrunner warehouse near I-25 and Jefferson. “New Mexico is one of the hungriest states in the nation because of the poverty rate.”

The  math isn’t yet done and the deal has not yet  been cut, but the fresh produce should be arriging early this spring.

“It’s very welcome,” said Roadrunner CEO Melody Wattenbarger. “The food is always needed. New Mexico is one of the hungriest states in the United States and there is always a gap between what we have and what we need.”

Demand has never been higher at Roadrunner, and the USDA reports that it’s that way all over the country, especially after cutbacks in monthly SNAP benefits – what used to be food stamps.