Helping Feed Seniors in Need

A unique Roadrunner Food Bank program, sponsored by BCBSNM, helps provide nutritious food to seniors in need.

No one should have to choose between buying food and paying their bills, but this decision is a reality for many New Mexico seniors living on a fixed income. According to the New Mexico Aging and Long Term Service Department, one in seven New Mexicans is not sure they have enough money to buy food, and many do not have enough to eat at least once during the month. Having access to a food pantry can make a difference in their lives.

Claudia, a senior at a local food pantry program tells of her monthly dilemma. “I struggle with food every month. I have found a couple of food pantries to go to, but other than that, I would go hungry.”

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico (BCBSNM) is committed to helping feed seniors in need in our local communities. That’s why we work with Roadrunner Food Bank to sponsor mobile food pantries at senior centers in Albuquerque and Bernalillo. Roadrunner Food Bank’s mobile pantries deliver over 5,000 pounds of food to the Bernalillo Senior Center and nearly 3,000 pounds of food to Villa Nueva Senior Apartments each month. We want to help New Mexican seniors avoid wondering where their next meal will come from.

“Seniors are among the most physically vulnerable to hunger,” said Melody Wattenbarger, president and CEO of Roadrunner Food Bank. “They face unique barriers to accessing nutritious food because of decreased mobility, limited incomes and health issues which require specific dietary food needs. Bringing food to where seniors are already located helps alleviate some of the barriers hungry seniors face.”

“When they have fresh produce, it is a great day. When there are vegetables, I’m in heaven.”

Through the mobile food pantry, a truckload of food is distributed using a farmer’s market-style setup where the seniors choose what they need. Among the variety of options are fresh fruits and vegetables, breads, frozen foods, meats and salad mixes.

Henry Padilla and Rita Benavidez are residents, but they also volunteer at the Villa Nueva food pantry by unloading boxes, sorting and displaying food and delivering food back to residents’ apartments, for those who are unable to do so themselves. Both struggle with diabetes and say that the food pantry provides them with nutritious options. “I’ve been healthier since the pantry started,” Padilla said. “My blood sugar levels have gone down,” Benavidez said.

They also enjoy the fellowship that the food pantry brings. Villa Nueva residents participate in a monthly potluck where the majority of dishes are made with items from the food pantry. It’s an opportunity for residents to share food and socialize. “This is a fun thing,” Padilla said.

Together, BCBSNM and Roadrunner Food Bank are helping to move the needle for seniors by providing nutritious food to help keep our New Mexico seniors healthy.

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