28% of New Mexico households with children can’t afford enough food, surpassing the national rate of just over 23 percent.

12 is New Mexico’s rank among all US states for the number of households with children who can’t afford enough food.

New Mexico continues to be a state that ranks high in hunger and food instability.—Sherry Hooper, executive director of The Food Depot

More than a quarter of households with children in New Mexico have recently been unable to afford food, according to a national survey by the Washington, DC-based Food Research and Action Center.

The study, released this month, asked families across the country if, at any time over the past year, they'd experienced times when they didn't have enough money to afford food. Washington, DC, topped the list; more than 34 percent responded in the affirmative. New Mexico ranked 12th, above the national average.

Hooper, who runs the Santa Fe nonprofit food charity The Food Depot, says hunger is a growing problem for New Mexico.

"More children are getting out of bed hungry," Hooper tells SFR. "Single mothers are struggling to put food on the table. One unexpected expense will make them turn to a food pantry."

Hooper says her organization will use the numbers to educate communities about hunger in New Mexico.

The Food Depot, based in Santa Fe, supplies approximately 120 local programs that feed the poor in nine New Mexico counties. Most of its funding comes from private donations; less than 10 percent comes from state and local government.

Still, Hooper says she's concerned about the future of federal food programs amid this month's compromise to raise the debt ceiling, which involves slashing $1 trillion in federal government spending over the next decade. She's worried the still-unspecified cuts will go to safety-net programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly called food stamps.

“Those are the kinds of programs that we count on to help people in New Mexico,” she says. “The food pantries can’t do it alone.”