March is National Nutrition Month
The Supplemental Nutritional Food Assistance Program (SNAP) helps New Mexicans access healthy food
Access to nutritional food is a huge issue in New Mexico, especially for our children. Almost a third of our children don’t have enough food to eat and are not getting the nutrition they need to develop healthily. Many families do not know where their next meal is coming from and have trouble affording healthy food.
March is National Nutrition Month, a time to think about the health risks to the large number of New Mexicans who struggle to access healthy food daily. More than three-fourths of children and adults are not eating enough fruits and vegetables that provide protein, vitamins and minerals that are needed for their health and growth.
The good news is that New Mexicans have access to many programs backed by the New Mexico Human Services Department. The Supplemental Nutritional Food Assistance Program (SNAP) ensures that the people and children who need it most can get nutritious, fresh food every month.
The SNAP application process is easy to complete either online or over the phone with the help of a Human Services Department caseworker, and benefits can be received in a timely manner once approved. Qualifying individuals or families will receive an EBT card that gets updated each month with an amount of money that can be used to buy food at most grocery stores. To learn more about how the New Mexico SNAP program works and find out if you qualify to receive assistance, visit the HSD website here.
Even though many New Mexicans are not getting enough nutritious food, there is still a negative stigma associated with asking for help or taking government assistance. Every week, nearly 70,000 New Mexicans seek food assistance—about the same size as the City of Santa Fe. Requests for free and reduced lunch at public schools to help children are common. There is no shame in needing help because every human being deserves access to nutritious, nourishing food.
It’s important to eat whole foods with plenty of healthy fats, protein, fiber, and vitamins. Whole, unprocessed fruits, vegetables, nuts, meats and dairy are just some examples of foods that are nutrient-dense.
Your health is at risk if you are not eating a nutritious diet, and you may face long-term health effects. On a daily basis, poor nutrition can lead to stress and make you feel more tired. Over long periods of time, improper nutrition can increase the risk of some illnesses and health conditions such as anemia, tooth decay, high blood pressure, and even certain cancers. Studies have shown that low amounts of certain nutrients can lead to developing chronic diseases like diabetes, osteoporosis and depression.
If you are pregnant, make nutrition a top priority. Not getting enough vitamins and minerals can have serious negative impacts on your health as well as your baby’s. And, when it comes to children’s development, good nutrition is essential. All children need nutrients to be able to learn, play, and grow. Children who don’t get the nourishment they need from the food they eat are also at risk for developmental delays, illnesses and behavioral problems.
Sometimes, finding fresh, organic food within a budget is hard. Fast foods are inexpensive, but are high in calories and low in nutritional value. And, in some places of New Mexico we have what’s called “food deserts,” where easy access to grocery stores is severely limited due to long distances or lack of transportation.
Start conversations with your friends and families this month about the importance of getting enough nutrition and be a model for your children by choosing healthy food whenever possible. If you or someone you know needs help purchasing nutritious food, visit the New Mexico Human Resources Department website and apply for the SNAP Benefits program here. Together we can take a dose of wellness and build healthy, thriving communities.
- YES New Mexico Benefits Portal: This is your portal to quickly and easily apply, check, update, or renew for a variety of public assistance programs. Create an account now to apply for and access your status for various benefits like Medicaid, SNAP, TANF, and LIHEAP.
- New Mexico Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- New Mexico Human Services Department
- New Mexico Human Services Department Behavioral Health Services Division (BHSD)
- Looking for New Mexico Food Assistance?
- New Mexico Commodity Food Supplement
- New Mexico Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT)
- New Mexico Emergency Food Assistance
- New Mexico Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
- New Mexico Food Banks