Lujan Grisham Introduces Legislation To Provide Stable Funding For Food Banks

WASHINGTON, D.C. U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham introduced legislation to ensure stable and increased federal funding for emergency food banks that distribute food to communities throughout the state.
Lujan Grisham drew attention to the need for the funding last month at a food distribution site at Pajarito Mesa. 

As a member of the House Agriculture Committee, Rep. Lujan Grisham voted for the 2014 Farm Bill that dedicated money for food purchases, along with $100 million a year for food banks to distribute food to communities. But the distribution money is usually whittled down to about $50 million a year, forcing organizations like the Roadrunner Food Bank to look for other sources of money. 

Rep. Lujan Grisham’s Food Bank Assistance Act of 2016 (H.R. 4967) would make that $100 million mandatory, and would increase the mandatory funding for Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP) food purchases to $500 million. 

“Food banks throughout the country have to divert private donations to support the cost of storing and distributing foods to communities,” Lujan Grisham said. “In every case, this means that the food bank is unable to use this money to improve programs and services for their clients, or increase the purchase of fresh locally grown foods to augment the quality and variety of foods available. 

“If we fully fund and make the transportation funding mandatory, food banks will no longer have to scrounge to make up the difference every year,” Lujan Grisham said.” 

Several organizations are supporting Rep. Lujan Grisham’s legislation, including Feeding America, First Focus Campaign for Children, Share Our Strength, and The Food Trust. 

“At a time when food banks in many states across our nation are anticipating increases in the number of people seeking food assistance because at least 500,000 very poor Americans are losing their SNAP benefits, we applaud Congresswoman Lujan Grisham for introducing this legislation,” Diana Aviv, CEO, Feeding America said. “It will have an immediate, positive and long-term impact on our network of food banks by providing millions of additional meals to the 46 million Americans our network serves every year.” 

New Mexico currently receives about $2.2 million from the federal government for food purchases. The state receives about $425,000 through TEFAP for administration costs, which can be used toward transportation and storage costs. 

Organizations like Roadrunner Food Bank have to make up the difference to serve isolated communities like Pajarito Mesa, where 949 households benefited last year, including 1,617 children. Monday, Roadrunner Food Bank delivered 7,200 pounds of food to benefit 120-125 families at Pajarito Mesa.