Lovington Food Coalition opens new, bigger facility
LOVINGTON — The Lovington Food Coalition has new permanent home and is ready to help end food insecurity in Lovington.
Nor-Lea Hospital has facilitated the new building, but CEO David Shaw told those in attendance Thursday afternoon, the food bank is it’s own entity.
“The hospital district is privileged to have a long-standing relationship with the Lovington Food Coalition, and we’re very pleased to be able to help facilitate the rehab of this building, and also the moving of the Food Coalition over here,” Shaw told those in attendance.
Shaw outlined how the hospital district’s mission fits perfectly with the LFC’s mission.
“Our vision is to enhance lives,” Shaw continued. “And, I can’t think of anything better than providing food to people suffering from food insecurities, as a way to enhance the lives of the people here in Lovington and Lea County.”
Former State Sen. Gay Kernan, one of the longest serving female legislators in the state of New Mexico before retiring in August, also said a few words on how important food security is to everyone, especially children.
“According to Voices for Children … they confirm what we already know — New Mexico is a very poor state. New Mexico ranks eighth nationally with regard to food insecurity,” Kernan said. “We rank third, as far as food insecurity for children.
“So, those with the lowest incomes often have to spend a greater portion of their income just to purchase food.
“The opportunity to obtain and consume healthy food will translate into health benefits that will have a lasting impact on the families you’re serving right here thorough the Food Coalition.”
Before becoming a senator, Kernan served as an educator for 28 years.
“As a former educator, I can tell you how critical it is our children have the nutrition they need so they can be successful when they go to school.”
LFC President Rhonda Phillips, noticeably humbled by Shaw’s and Kernan’s introduction and the remodeled building, complete with new shelving and walk in coolers, could barely contain her joy.
“I can’t tell you how excited we are to have this facility. It’s just amazing,” she said.
During her remarks, Phillips, a retired educator, gave a brief history of the LFC mixed with many thank-yous along the way.
“But, I can’t say that without saying ‘thank you so much’ to the Nazarene church for allowing us to use the building that we have been housed in since 2012. It was a small building. There was no heat and no air.
“When they asked what we wanted in this building, I said, ‘If we have a heater and an air conditioner, we’re OK,'” she joked. “But this has far surpassed anything we could have imagined.”
Phillips, who has been involved with the LFC for about eight years, read from a brief history sent to her by LFC founders Jaron and Elizabeth Graham.
“The Lovington Food Coalition, began outside a conference room at the J.F. Maddox foundation in mid 2012,” she read. “Non-profit leaders from every city in Lea County had been invited to participate in a discussion around the topic food insecurity in Lea County. Following the discussion several of those in attendance from Lovington began to wonder what it might look like to meet the needs of those with inadequate food resources in a consistent and holistic way.
“By December of 2012 the inaugural LFC board met at the Church of the Nazarene in the house where the Food Pantry would be located.”
Funding partnerships were established within the community as well as food sourcing partnerships with the Salvation Army, Heart’s Desire Inc., and Road Runner food bank, she said.
And, the LFC gained non-profit status in 2013, the same year the food bank partnered with Lovington Schools and started the Back Snack Program, aimed at addressing weekend hunger among school aged children. The program initially served around 100 students each week, providing food for the weekend equivalent to the breakfast and lunch the children normally receive during the school week.
While the building is well on its way to having shelves filled, many of the shelves are in need of food to give to those in need.
In that regard the food bank is holding a community-wide food drive, and downtown businesses are helping to lead the charge.
Dubbed the “Downtown Showdown,” businesses are competing to see how much non-perishable food they can collect from now through Oct. 20. And, it is based on a point scale.
Each can of soup, beans or vegetables earns five points. Each applesauce, canned fruit, tuna, or chicken earns 15 points. And each box of granola bars, craisins, peanut or almond butter earns 20 points.
To help, drop off food of your choice at you favorite downtown business, and help put an end to food security.
For more information on the Downtown Showdown, contact Lovington MainStreet at 575-396-1418.