Donations help Socorro Storehouse feed hungry

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Every Thursday afternoon needy families of Socorro line up at the Socorro Storehouse, the primary source for regular food distribution in the the city.

John Larson - El Defensor Chieftain: Louie Romero packs and sorts food boxes for a client at the Thursday pickup. Romero is one of eight people who regularly volunteer their time at the Storehouse.

Families are allotted one pickup per month and the food boxes are individually sorted to accommodate the nutritional needs of each client by community volunteers.

One such client who came in last Thursday afternoon said he was trying to feed a household of six, three kids and three adults. He said he’s been picking up food boxes at the Storehouse for five months.

The man, who chose to remain nameless, said he developed problems with his liver, which is now failing. “Right now I’m taking medications and trying to get on a transplant list,” he said.

This was the second time during the month he will be picking up a food box.

“I am trying to support not only my family, but also took in a homeless family,” he said.

This isn’t the norm for Storehouse, but it happens occasionally, according to Director Valerie Key. It’s also a reason why Storehouse is constantly in need of food and money donations.

“We allow one pick up a month, but we do give them what we call emergency visits, but that is not part of the food program. It is food we have been given at our local food drives and purchased from the Food Bank with money locally donated to us,” Key said. “This gentleman is picking up for essentially two families.”

An $8 donation would feed a family of four for one week, according to Key.

“It helps out a lot,” the client said. “They put all kinds of stuff in the boxes, even for the kids, like Cheerios and peanut butter.”

He said what he appreciated about the staff was their understanding of his needs.

“It was so easy to get signed up,” the man added. “They don’t judge you or your circumstances. It’s like they really care. This is a great service to the community. ”

Storehouse co-director is Melissa Ramsey, who said the Storehouse provides food for an average of 300 families every month. “On any given week, we provide for about 90 families,” she said.

Besides their regular monthly clients, Key and Ramsey offer temporary help, on a one-time basis.

“For instance, if someone or a family not from here finds themselves stranded for a few days,” Key said. “We also work with Puerto Seguro, which is in the same building.”

She said the service is primarily for people in Socorro, but is not limited to the city.

“We do get families and elderly from elsewhere in the county who need a little extra help each month,” Key said. “New Mexico is ranked number one in ‘food insecurity,’ which is defined as ‘uncertain or limited access to enough food for an active, healthy life.’ When you are food insecure, you don’t know where your next meal is coming from.”

According to census figures, 39 percent of children live in poverty in Socorro County.

“Fifty-nine percent of babies born were to single mothers – the most reliable predictor of poverty for children,” she said.

Socorro Storehouse is supported solely by the community through donations of food, cash and volunteer hours and accepts most all non-perishables items, such as “canned food like soups or stews, peanut butter, canned fruit and vegetables, saltines, granola bars, breakfast cereals, the list goes on and on,” Key said.

Besides individuals who contribute food or money, other supporters include Smith’s Food and Drug, San Miguel Church, Trinity Christian fellowship, New Mexico Tech Chapter of Kappa Sigma, Casa Volunteers, Holiday Inn, Elegante, Aerojet, Comidas de Nuevo Mexico, New Mexico Tech Chapter Of AISES and Roadrunner Food Bank.

“If you aren’t mentioned, please know that you have our eternal gratitude for your kindness,” Key said. “To everyone who has donated time, money, or food, we appreciate you. If you have purchased a breakfast burrito or dropped off food at one of our food drives, you have helped to feed a family in need in Socorro.”

The Storehouse website is www.socorrostorehouse.org. You can also find Socorro Storehouse on Facebook.

If you or someone you know is in need of food, give Socorro Storehouse a call at 575-517-7194, or drop by at 519 S. California St. on a Thursday during regular distribution hours noon to 3 p.m.