In little more than a week, whole families' incomes have disappeared. Folks are experiencing economic insecurity across the board in ways they never have before—for some, it's a choice between essentials like food, medicine and houseing, and though Mayor Alan Webber announced an eviction freeze last week, if this sounds like your situation, this column's for you—Santa Fe offers numerous established and emerging resources to help folks access food, and you shouldn't be afraid to use them.
First, for the kids. Santa Fe Public Schools is distributing breakfasts and lunches at seven different area schools every weekday between 10:30 am and 12:30 pm for anyone school-aged and younger. Drive-through meal pickup is available at Chaparral, Kearny, Sweeney and Ramirez Thomas elementary schools, Aspen Middle School and Santa Fe and Capital high schools.
For families and adults in need, The Food Depot has been preparing to be at the forefront of crisis for 25 years now, and has opened three weekly drive-through food distribution centers to help maintain social distancing while getting food to those in need. But who is eligible?
"Anyone," says Jill Dixon, The Food Depot's director of development. "Obviously we are hoping that people who genuinely need the help are going to be the ones coming in to get the help… If there's a family, a person struggling, they didn't have the resources to stock up, they don't know how to feed their families, they've come out of work or their income has dropped, we want those folks to come and get support."
Each center is equipped to distribute food for about 2,300 people each day, and families receive a box that should last about a week and is stocked with nonperishables like pasta, rice, beans and canned meats, along with some fresh foods.
"We also have produce items, which, right now, we're focusing on root vegetables that have a long shelf life," Dixon explains. "Potatoes, carrots, onions. We're going to have apples very soon."
If you're secure and able to help, The Food Depot is not accepting food donations right now for obvious health reasons, but it is accepting financial contributions which can be used to buy food from distributors at a steep discount.
"Every dime helps," Dixon adds.
For the disabled, however, it can be challenging to turn raw food into an edible meal. The Food Depot's partner, Kitchen Angels, offers meal deliveries to homebound folks. To determine if you're eligible, call 471-7780.
The City of Santa Fe also provides meals to homebound seniors 60 and older through the national Meals on Wheels program; while the city has closed meal distributions at senior centers, it's still able to deliver. Call 955-4721 for more info or to get you or a loved one enrolled.
Despite these resources, there will still be gaps—regular folks will have to step up and help their neighbors, as long as they're not in crisis themselves.
As the gravity of the COVID-19 crisis began to fall around us, Santa Fean Bobby Beals found himself in the same place as many of us: scrolling social media, searching for updates.
"I made the mistake to be on social media a lot, and there's a lot of warring and fear," Beals tells SFR. "I just felt that people were losing their jobs, and I was worried about how the elderly, and the [disabled], specifically are gonna get meals."
Beals is an artist and former gallerist who owns the skateboard brand Kamagraph, through which he hosts the annual Skateopolis show at local coffee shop Downtown Subscription to raise money for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. So while he's got experience with charity, he's not a food distribution or logistics professional by any means. A simple Facebook post asking who needed helpspawned a spreadsheet to list families in need.
"I'm trying to do this no questions, no judgements kind of thing," Beals explains. Before he knew it, numerous chefs, donors and delivery drivers had volunteered to help out, and now Beals has a project on his hands he never expected.
"The first batch, we made a weeks' worth of meals for 30 families," he says.
Originally the plan was to make sandwiches and burritos, but once local chefs came onboard, the menu evolved to include things like soups and casseroles and has since grown larger than anticipated. Interested parties can still reach out to Beals for more info, but the scope of the project is changing with chefs and volunteers meeting this week to work out its next steps.
Visit facebook.com/bobbybealsandco to learn more, and do your best to stem the tide.