Be Aware

Consider others and their experience wiath an open mind.

Be Kind

Keep love and kindness at the heart of your messages.

Be Inclusive

Make an effort to embrace mental health conversations.

Be Healthy

Learn how to improve your overall health.

The Dose of Wellness campaign bridges the often-overlooked connection between physical and mental health.

Homelessness & Food Insecurity Awareness

  • Be Aware
  • Be Helpful
  • Be Generous

November is Homelessness & Food Insecurity Awareness Month

Wellness encompasses many aspects of physical and mental health. At the basis is reliable shelter and food. Sadly, for many New Mexicans food and shelter are not a given.

Even before the global pandemic, New Mexico experienced a 27% increase in homelessness – the highest in the nation (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development). Lockdowns, rising unemployment, and school closures associated with the COVID-19 crisis only exacerbated the problems across the state and the country. Millions lost their jobs or were forced to give them up to stay home and care for their children.

In Northern New Mexico alone, the number of meals that the Food Depot provided nearly doubled after the onset of COVID-19, increasing from an average of 430,000 a month in 2019 to more than 800,000 in 2020. 

Across the state, food banks delivered more than 50 million meals to New Mexicans in 2020.

~ The New Mexico Association of Food Banks

Now, even as the pandemic eases and children are back in school, families still struggle to make ends meet in the face of rising housing and food prices.

November is Homelessness and Food Insecurity Awareness Month—a good time for us all to dispel myths about those experiencing homelessness or food insecurity and take stock of what we can do to ensure everyone has basic shelter and healthy food. 

The statistics are sobering:

  • As of January 2020, New Mexico had an estimated 3,333 experiencing homelessness on any given day, as reported by Continuums of Care to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). And more than 50% of those experience chronic homelessness.
  • Every week, nearly 70,000 New Mexicans seek food assistance. That’s the equivalent of a city the size of Santa Fe needing assistance every week.
  • Between 30-40% of the members of households seeking food assistance are children under the age of 18.
  • Twenty-one percent of the people seeking food assistance in New Mexico are senior citizens.
  • Sixty-one percent of households report that in the previous year they had to choose between paying utilities or buying food. Of this group, 33% reported that they have to make this tough choice every month.
  • Forty-eight percent of households report having to choose between paying their rent or mortgage or buying food, and 19% of this group are forced to make this choice every month.
 
Many people believe that the only people needing food assistance are homeless or out of work, but according to the New Mexico Food Bank, 53% of households seeking emergency food assistance include at least one employed adult, and only 11% of the people seeking assistance are homeless.
 
Like those experiencing food insecurity, those facing homelessness represent a diverse group; people working low-wage jobs, people suffering from mental illness, those with substance abuse problems, migrant workers, runaway or throwaway teens, victims of domestic violence and veterans are just a sampling of those experiencing homelessness.

How can you help?

Donate — Financial contributions can be the most effective, as they allow food banks and other non-profits to direct the funding to areas where they are most needed. Non-perishable food items, of course, are also always accepted. The New Mexico Association of Food Banks can help you find food banks in your community. 

Volunteer — Every hour donated by a volunteer means more dollars to spend providing meals to people in need.

Advocate — You can make a difference by sharing information about hunger in our communities. Hosting a food drive is also a great way to help educate friends, family and neighbors about hunger in our communities

Where to get help:

Food banks and other non-profits working to end homeless work closely together to ensure vulnerable people get all the help they need. Contact your local food bank or local government entities to see what resources are available.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD, offers a comprehensive list of hotlines, programs and other resources for those needing everything from food to emergency help with rent and assistance to job training programs at: https://www.hud.gov/states/new_mexico/homeless.

 

Resources:

Thank you for taking the #DoseofWellness pledge. The journey to wellness begins with awareness around issues such as homelessness and food insecurity.

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Remember to embrace conversations about mental health with others, and to spread the word that mental health is just as important as physical health—it’s all connected.