Carts packed with $1,000 worth of groceries for storehouse

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One of the best examples of the future of agriculture in Socorro County can be found in two student-centric organizations — 4-H and Future Farmers of America.

Twelve of those clubs’ finest were on hand Tuesday, Feb. 18, for Socorro County Farm Bureau’s annual Food Checkout Day at John Brooks Supermarket.

John Larson — El Defensor Chieftain: Twelve members of Future Farmers of America and 4-H in Socorro County participated in the Farm Bureau’s annual Our Food Link (formerly Food Checkout Day) on Tuesday morning at John Brooks Supermarket. From left, Chris Tafoya, Erika Leon, Deanna Blair, Eli Ware and Clay Towner check out their two carts while Aaron Romero bags the purchases.

Benjie Segovia, regional director of New Mexico Farm and Livestock Bureau, said this year American Farm Bureau Federation has changed the name of Food Checkout Day to Our Food Link. “It’s the day that the average American has earned enough to pay for your food for that year,” Segovia said.

“The emphasis is how cheap our food is compared to other countries,” farmer Dan Kloss said. “We have the cheapest food in the world. The average American farmers feed 155 individuals, on average.”

The 4-H and FFA students formed four teams to push carts up and down the aisles of the supermarket, picking out $1,000 worth of groceries. Every year, the Farm Bureau donates $500 worth of food to the Socorro Storehouse, which is matched dollar for dollar by John Brooks.

“We’re needing canned goods, pasta, beans, things like that,” Valerie Key of Socorro Storehouse said. “The storehouse has been working harder and constantly reminding the community of what is needed for our less fortunate residents.”

“This is the seventeenth year we’ve done this,” Dick Ritter of Socorro Farm Bureau said. “In the beginning, several years ago, we asked Ray (Hurtgen) if he could help us. We started with only a few hundred dollars.”

Socorro Farm Bureau Secretary Matthew Harris said it’s a “fantastic lesson for these kids.”

“Food Checkout Day encourages attention to what agriculture means to us,” he said. “The small family farm makes Socorro County what it is.”

Key said there is always a need at the storehouse, both in food and volunteers.

She said the storehouse has training sessions coming up for new volunteers; the training will include the basics – “how we get our money, where supplies come from, how to stock shelves and how to treat clients.”

John Larson — El Defensor Chieftain: Following checkout, the students — perched on hay bales — rode down California Street on Dan Kloss’s flatbed trailer, taking the $1,000 worth of groceries to Socorro Storehouse.

“We treat our clients like customers, not like people coming in for free food,” Key said. “I’ve been to other places where people were not being treated like that, but being treated like someone looking for a handout. That is not how we do things in Socorro.”

She said she was indebted to all the people who donated over the holidays.

“We’re getting as many as 300 families come in, in a month’s time, and seeing a lot of new faces,” Key said.

Food box pick-up day is from noon to 2 p.m. every Thursday at Socorro Storehouse, located in the same building as Puerto Seguro at at 519 Highway 85 (S. California Street).

Our Food Link was observed nationwide from Feb. 17 through 23. John Brooks stores in Albuquerque, Santa Fe and Milan also participated.

 

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