Michelle L. Huey , Ruidoso News 2:04 p.m. MT Aug. 25, 2016
One-in-7 Americans struggles to get enough to eat, according to statistics. Hunger or food insecurity exists in almost every community in the United States, and Lincoln County is no exception. To meet the need, Lincoln County Food Bank has been feeding area residents for 30 years.
To meet a rapidly growing demand, the food bank is moving from its long-time home at the First Baptist Church in Ruidoso Downs to a new location at 138 Service Rd., formerly the Greyhound Bus Station. The building is more than double the size of their current location in the Ruidoso Downs baptist Church.
"Ruidoso Downs Baptist Church has been very benevolent to us," Estes said. "They provided that space, but we unfortunately outgrew it."
Estes said the rate of increase they see at the food bank is "frightening" and their ultimate goal is help as many people as possible and meet the growing demand while growing themselves.
"We serve Lincoln County, but if folks from Otero County and the reservation come over, we're going to feed them too," LCFB president Jamie Estes said. "If you're hungry we're not going to turn you away. We feed about 10,000 people a year and with a town the population of 8,500 roughly, that's not a very good balance. So you want to know how the local economy is doing, come ask us. We'll tell you our demand is consistently creeping up because people are having a hard time."
"We're not the police, we're not the judge and jury, we're not God, we don't ask a lot of questions," Estes said.
The move has been a long-time coming and the new, higher-profile location will be open for business September 7.
The Lincoln County Food Bank will open the doors to its first permanent home Sept. 7 (Photo: Courtesy)
Location, location, location
The group is purchasing the new building, giving the food bank a permanent home. Estes spotted the location last year but gave up on the idea when the deal to obtain it fell through. However, a few months ago he received a phone call that said they could have the space and it wasn't long before a deal was made.
"We now have a permanent location and that makes a big difference," Estes said. "Location-wise, I just don't know that it could be better."
The building has been vacant for years so volunteers have been busy cleaning, painting and sprucing the place up. Estes said he is grateful for their efforts and also to local utility companies that waived the group's deposits.
"It's great, we're so excited," he said.
The bottom line
"We encourage donation," Estes said. "Money drives us, that's just the bottom line, and our demand is up so we just need more money."
Estes said the donation money is strictly for food purchases from Roadrunner Food bank and local grocery stores. In addition to individual donors, they also receive donations from local post offices.
"There's no paid staff, zero," he said. "We are all volunteers every last one of us and we only spend our money on food."
He said the board and volunteer staff are the organization's backbone.
"It's a calling and we just can't make it without them," Estes said.
LCFB volunteers have put in much of their own time and money to make ready the new location. (Photo: Courtesy)
Food bank volunteers proved that fact by refusing to spend food money on the move. Many opened their own wallets to pay for the transition. Estes said they have spent thousands of dollars out of their own pockets to make the move happen expense free. Now they are asking the community to help carry the load by pitching in with donations of their own to help cover new ongoing expenses like utilities.
To learn more, visit lincolncountyfoodbank.org or go to their Lincoln County Food Bank Facebook page.
The Lincoln County Food Bank is located at 138 Service Rd. The food bank is open from noon to 4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
The Lincoln County Food Bank is located at 138 Service Rd. The food bank is open from noon to 4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday. (Photo: Courtesy)
United States statistics on poverty, 2014
- The most recent government statistics on poverty collected show that in 2014,46.7 million people (15 percent) were in poverty, including 15.5 million (21 percent) children under the age of 18.48.
- One million Americans lived in food-insecure households, including more than 15 million children.
According to the Feeding America Hunger in America 2014 study at feedingamerica.org
- 48.1 million Americans lived in food insecure households, including 32.8 million adults and 15.3 million children.
- Fourteen percent of households (17.4 million households) were food insecure.
- Six percent of households (6.9 million households) experienced very low food security.
- Households with children reported food insecurity at a significantly higher rate than those without children, 19 percent compared to 12 percent.
- Households that had higher rates of food insecurity than the national average included households with children (19 percent), especially households with children headed by single women (35 percent) or single men (22 percent), Black non-Hispanic households (26 percent) and Hispanic households (22 percent).
- In 2013, 5.4 million seniors (over age 60), or 9 percent of all seniors were food insecure.
- Food insecurity exists in every county in the U.S.
Dave Tomlin, Ruidoso News 8:25 a.m. MT Nov. 22, 2016
Lincoln County Food Bank volunteers handed out 100 turkeys to clients this week, insuring that the signature protein dish of Thanksgiving Day will be on many more local family tables than it might otherwise have been.
“We had some donors give us special money to buy turkeys,” said Food Bank president Jamie Estes Monday. “This was not in our normal budget. So we bought 100 and we’re giving them away today.”
Estes said that when the anonymous donors stepped forward, the Food Bank prepared numbered tickets and handed them out to the next 100 clients who showed up for normal monthly food distributions.
“That helped us avoid having a free-for-all,” he said.
Estes said the turkeys were purchased at Walmart, which gave the Food Bank a discount so the money went farther.
“We actually had some money left over that we’ll use to buy hams for Christmas,” he said.
Volunteers handled the distribution at the Food Bank’s new location on Service Road, and some furnished additional services when requested, Estes said.
“There were people up here while they were getting their turkey they got prayed for too,” Estes said. “We try to see to their spiritual needs as well as their physical needs.”
He said he could tell how much the extra generosity was appreciated, and for Estes the appreciation flows both ways.
“It’s very rewarding to see their expressions,” he said of Food Bank recipients. “This is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever been involved in in my life.”
Ruidoso News reports Published 9:49 a.m. MT May 19, 2016 | Updated 1:20 p.m. MT May 31, 2016
Postal delivery personnel Cindy Kent, Rich Adams, Paula Allen, Sandy Lee, Kelly Maynard, and Tre Taylor picked up over 4,000 pounds of food donated that Ruidoso residents left by their mailboxes for the post office's annual food drive to help fight local hunger. This year's collection was the largest in recent history of this nationwide event for the Ruidoso office due to the generosity of Ruidoso residents and efforts of the postal employees. The Lincoln County Food Bank directors and its many volunteers and clients express heartfelt thanks for the food that was donated. The food will help fill the thousands of boxes given out as they celebrate the food bank's 30th year of helping Lincoln County residents.
Ruidoso News 3:59 p.m. MDT October 27, 2015
Inn of the Mountain Gods employees delivered more than 2,000 cans collected at the Inn during the "Cash for Cans" promotion to Lincoln County Food Bank.
"They do it every Thanksgiving and it really does help the community," Lincoln County Food Bank Director Pat Scott said.
Scott said she expects to see more cans delivered to the food bank since the IMG promotion runs through Nov. 21.
"They do a great job there of giving back to the community," Scott said.
Lincoln County Food Bank seeks to increase public awareness
The Lincoln County Food Bank is on a mission to raise it's community profile and grow. It's unveiling a new website, and it's actively and anxiously looking for a new building.
"We need a more visible, more accessible place," said LCFB board president Jamie Estes. "Until now we've had no website, no answering service. We want to increase public awareness."
Founded in 1986, the Food Bank has been lodged for the past eight years in a portable building behind the First Southern Baptist Church on Highway 70 in Ruidoso Downs.
The church provides the building rent-free, and Food Bank volunteers set up shop there three times a week, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from noon to 4 p.m.
"We are forever grateful for all they've done for us," Estes said. But the location is sometimes hard for new clients to find, and it can be difficult for the elderly or disabled to navigate the rough terrain from the parking lot to the entrance, especially in bad weather.
Food Bank volunteers give a box of assorted dry and canned goods, plus produce and meat when it's available, to each eligible family every 30 days.
It doesn't encourage walk-ins, but Estes and board secretary Pat Scott said no hungry person leaves empty handed.
"If somebody comes and they're hungry," we'll feed them," Estes said.
"We ask them, what do you need the most, and we try to give them enough to get them through the week," Scott added.
Last year according to its new website at www.lincolncountyfoodbank.org, the organization fed 3,781 families, a total of 9,870 people.
That figure was up substantially from 2013, and Scott says the group is on track to post larger numbers for this year.
"We're seeing 30 to 40 new faces every month," she said.
The majority of clients are split about 50-50 between Ruidoso and Ruidoso Downs, Scott said, but others come from much farther away. Carrizozo, Nogal, Hondo and Capitan are all represented. And Scott said LCFB is the only organization of its kind that also serves Mescalero.
The Food Bank is one of several local privately funded organizations that feed the hungry. "We feed the most people," Scott said proudly. "We're the largest. And the oldest. We're the original."
It operates on a shoestring, sustained by the work of its 55 volunteers, cash donations from a stable of reliable supporters that includes the Hubbard Foundation, and contributions of food.
Local auto dealer Christopher Carusona, currently board vice president, has been "involved from the beginning," Estes said, a source of support of every kind, often on a moment's notice.
Some food donations come in small amounts from individuals throughout the year, but much more is collected during seasonal food drives conducted by Lawrence Brothers during the Christmas holidays, local mail carriers in the spring and the Inn of the Mountain Gods in the fall.
Walmart, Thriftway, Walmart and Lawrence Brothers are regular sources of food at discounted prices, as is Smokey's in Capitan.
LCFB spends nearly all of its $5,000 monthly budget on food, Scott said, and collects direct donations of food worth about the same amount.
Moving to new quarters will bring new expenses, however, and Estes and Scott are hoping a solution comes along that keeps those to a minimum.
"There are so many empty buildings," Scott said. "We're hoping somebody will donate one and get a tax write-off."
One way or another, Estes said, when LCFB finds its new quarters and sees what it will take to move into it, a way will be found.
"This is the most benevolent community I've ever been in," he said. "I'm confident that when we put it out that we need money for this, we'll get it."
Lincoln County Food Bank
138 Service Rd.
Ruidoso, NM 88355
Mailing Address: P. O. Box 7432
Ruidoso, NM 88355
HOURS OF OPERATION
Monday, Wednesday and Friday
NOON to 4:00 PM
For residents in need from Lincoln County and Mescalero.
Weather closures follow the Ruidoso Public School's schedules.
For holiday closures check with the food bank or our LCFB Facebook.