Last updated 5:44PM ET
December 16, 2017
KSUT Regional
KSUT Regional
Community Voices: Echo Food Bank of Farmington
(2008-06-04)
Echo food bank serves an estimated 2000 people per month in the Farmington area out of this large facility. They serve 7200 out of a second facility in Albuquerque. (Photo: Victor Locke, KSUT)
(ksut) - This is KSUT's Community Voices, I'm Victor Locke.
This month, we share with you information about a Farmington based program providing services and touching lives of tens of thousands of people across the Northern Half of New Mexico, many in San Juan County.
Echo stands for Economic Council Helping Others.
It's a Community Action Agency begun in the 1960's.
Sara Kaynor has been with Echo, Inc. for 19-years and is presently its Executive Director.
KAYNOR: WE HAVE DONE MANY DIFFERENT THINGS. ALL THE WAY FROM A SKUNK ERADICATION PROGRAM TO WHAT WE'RE DOING CURRENTLY AND THAT INCLUDES THINGS LIKE OUR FOOD PROGRAMS. IN THE FARMINGTON WAREHOUSE, WE ACTUALLY HAVE A FOOD BANK THAT HAS SEVEN DIFFERENT PROGRAMS UNDER IT'S DIRECTION.
Echo serves an estimated 2-thousand people per month from it's Farmington food bank, and operates a similar food bank in Albuquerque serving 72-hundred people per month.
35-to-40 thousand people per year across the northern half of New Mexico are served by Echo's food banks alone.
KAYNOR: AS FAR AS THE NEED, IT IS INCREASING DRAMATICALLY. WE HAVE SENIORS ON FIXED INCOMES WHOSE HEATING BILL HAS GONE OUT OF SIGHT. FOOD COSTS ARE GOING UP, MEDICAL PRESCRIPTIONS, THAT SORT OF THING. WE ARE SEEING ABOUT A SIXTEEN PERCENT INCREASE ON OUR FOODBANK SIDE, EMERGENCY FOOD BOXES.
THE MAJORITY OF THOSE FOLKS ARE WORKING BUT THEY'RE UNDEREMPLOYED. HUGE SERVICE ECONOMY IN SAN JUAN COUNTY. YOU'RE NOT MAKING A LIVING WAGE, YOU'RE NOT ABLE TO DEAL WITH A CAR REPAIR THAT COMES UP OUT OF THE BLUE, IT'S PRETTY DRAMATIC. POVERTY IN SAN JUAN COUNTY IS TWENTY TWO PER CENT I BELIEVE AND ACTUALLY OF THE CHILDREN IN SAN JUAN COUNTY, MORE THAN 54-PERCENT LIVE IN POVERTY.
Echo, operates with a staff of five full time employees, hundreds of volunteers, an annual cash budget of 1-point-5 million dollars but distributes food and services valued at 15-million dollars.
And that number is going up each year.
New Mexico routinely ranks in the top ten for food insecurity, not knowing where your next meal will come from, and 3rd in hunger.
Many going hungry, often through no fault of their own, are children.
To address that problem, six years ago Echo began a backpack program, under the guidance of Echo Food Programs supervisor Vicki Metheny.
METHENY: WHAT THE FOOD BANK DOES IS GATHERS THE RESOURCES OF KID FRIENDLY, OPEN AND EAT SEMI NUTRITIOUS FOODS, SHELF STABLE. WE PACK THESE IN A BACKPACK, JUST LIKE A SCHOOL BACKPACK, TAKE THEM TO THE DESIGNATIVE PARTICIPATING ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS AND THEN THE SCHOOL PERSONNEL GET TO DETERMINE IF A CHILD IS AT RISK OF NOT BEING FED AT HOME. SO THE SCHOOL SENDS THESE HOME AND THEN IF THE CHILD NEEDS THE BACKPACK REFILLED THEY CAN BRING IT BACK. THE SCHOOL DOES NOTIFY THE FAMILY NOT ONLY OF WHERE THE FOOD CAME FROM BUT ALSO OTHER RESOURCES, SO IF THERE'S A MORE PERMANENT SOLUTION THAT NEEDS TO BE REACHED OR TRY TO GET BEHIND THE CAUSE OF THEM NOT FEEDING THE CHILD.
50 backpacks were sent home the programs first year, 2002.
Last year, more than 22-hundred backpacks were distributed.
The program is completely locally funded.
Echo also provides utility, prescription, eye care and other emergency financial assistance and operates a pre school in Aztec.
And Echo is gearing up to tackle the issue of affordable housing.
Rosalyn Fry is Echo's New Housing Director, after serving with the San Juan County Affordable Housing Alliance for several years.
She's working to expand Echo's housing assistance programs already in place and toward an affordable housing strategic plan.
FRY: WE'RE MOVING FORWARD TO EDUCATE THE COMMUNITY ABOUT THE EXTREME NEEDS. THE ANSWER TO AFFORDABLE HOUSING IN SAN JUAN COUNTY HAS BEEN MODULAR MOBILE HOMES. A THIRD OF OUR HOMES IN SAN JUAN COUNTY ARE MOBILE HOMES. STATEWIDE IT'S 17 PERCENT. NATIONWIDE IT'S 6.9 PERCENT. WE KNOW IT'S NOT BENEFICIAL ECONOMICALLY BECAUSE THE HOMES AREN'T BUILT HERE. IT'S NOT BENEFICIAL AS A TAX BASE, AND IT'S NOT BENEFICIAL TO FAMILIES BUILDING ASSETS BECAUSE SOME MOBILES DO APPRECIATE, BUT NOT AT THE RATE OF A STICK BUILT HOME.
Echo Director Sara Kaynor says as for Echo's future, anything's possible.
KAYNOR: IT REALLY IS THE MANDATE FOR COMMUNITY ACTION AGENCIES THAT YOU ARE ALWAYS LOOKING AT WHAT'S GOING ON IN YOUR COMMUNITY AND IF THERE IS A NEED THAT ARISES, IS THERE A WAY FOR YOU TO EITHER DEAL WITH IT DIRECTLY OR CAN YOU FACILITATE IN SOME WAY, ANOTHER GROUP THAT WOULD BE ABLE TO DEAL WITH THE ISSUE.
Echo can be reached at 505-325-7466.
For KSUT's Community Voices, I'm Victor Locke.
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