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advertising against the bill versus nine million dollars spent by supporters. Similar bills were introduced in five states, including New Mexico, with as many as twenty more states prepared to follow. Senate Bill 18, the GMO labeling bill introduced by Senator Peter Wirth (D-Santa Fe) this year, died a quick and fiery death on the floor of the NM Senate. In an unprecedented move, the bill was killed when the Senate voted twenty-three to seventeen not to accept a committee recommendation to pass. However, it looks like corporate interests have seen the handwriting on the wall as they gathered in Washington, DC a week ago to discuss what a national GMO labeling program might look like. Fresh, healthy food is important to me. I want to see our children, twenty-five percent of whom don’t get enough food at home, get fresh local apples, melons, lettuce, carrots and other fruits and vegetables in their school meals. The New Mexico Food and Ag Policy Council has determined that the best way to insure this will happen is through policy and requests for funding. Senator Pete Campos (D-Las Vegas) has led the five-year campaign to get New Mexico grown produce into the schools. “In these challenging economic times when a quarter of New Mexico’s children are considered food insecure, it is even more important that we meet their nutritional needs through a healthy school lunch that includes fresh fruits and vegetables. Investing in our school nutrition programs to purchase New Mexico-grown produce is a winwin for children and their health as well as New Mexico’s farming families,” Campos says. Local Corrales farmer Anthony Wagner, of Wagner Farms, is one of many NM farmers that would benefit if the bill is passed. Last year Wagner leased a large plot of land in Los Lunas and grew several thousand pounds of melons. Shauna Woodworth of Farm to Table helped Wagner qualify as a vendor for Albuquerque Public Schools (APS). Testifying before the Interim Legislative Health and Human Services Committee in November, Wagner said that if the schools were willing to buy more, he would plant more. This means more employment and more economic activity in the surrounding community. Wagner was testifying in favor of Senate Bill 80/ House Bill 338 New Mexico Grown Produce in School Meals. The bills ask for 1.4 million dollars in funds for schools to buy fresh local produce for school breakfasts and lunches. The bills were initiated by the New Mexico Food and Agriculture Policy Council (NMFAPC) to meet a need. A need the Council has seen intensify over the past five legislative sessions in which they have proposed this bill. Pam Roy, NMFAPC Coordinator says “There are farmers across the state looking for new markets for their produce, at the same time the new federal Child Nutrition Rules are requiring our schools to serve twice as many fruits and vegetables each day. This bill would help our schools meet the new requirements and expand markets for our New Mexico farmers.”

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The New Mexico Farmers Marketing Association (NMFMA) has identified additional needs among the less-fortunate in our communities. These populations have obesity rates as high as fifty percent for children in third grade. Studies suggest that is because high-calorie, high-carb foods cost less than healthy, fresh vegetables. In House Bill 100/ Senate Bill 219 Develop and Promote New Mexico Farmers Markets, the NMFMA is requesting eighty-five thousand dollars that would fund the New Mexico Fruit & Vegetable Prescription Program, a pediatric anti-obesity program being expanded in San Juan, San Miguel, Socorro, and Rio Arriba Counties, where prescriptions are written for healthy food and funds are provided, in the form of vouchers, for the purchase of fresh produce at nearby farmers markets. This bill would also fund a pilot program creating a network of Community Health Workers to promote farmers markets and fresh food options in the Colonias, on reservations and pueblos, and in other underserved areas of our state. In addition, the funds would support statewide public education and outreach that targets seniors, and WIC and SNAP recipients to promote the purchase of fresh food at farmers markets. These rules are reflected in our shopping experience. I love walking into a well-run grocery store with a cornucopia of fresh wonderful produce. I get excited by the variety and for seasonal foods to inspire my menus for the week. Unfortunately, not everyone has access to these stores. I used to live on a ranch in northern New Mexico where the nearest grocery store was forty miles away. We were lucky, we grew a huge garden. But many of our neighbors did not garden and, in addition, many of our older neighbors, our vejitos, didn’t drive, so they had to depend on relatives for their groceries. Data shows that the farther you live from a grocery store the less likely you are to get a recommended number of fruits and vegetables. Almost all the vejitos in my community were diabetic and depended on insulin. You would be hard pressed to see any fresh fruits and vegetables in my neighbors’ homes. But everyone has sodas, ice cream and chips. The NMFAPC recognized this fact, and sponsored legislation that would help our rural communities create the infrastructure to attract grocery stores to their communities. Unfortunately, that legislation didn’t pass. The fact is policy work takes time and commitment. Getting everyone to agree on what needs to be done is a huge challenge. Organizations like the NMFPAC work year after year to get legislation passed. No one does this work alone—it takes partnerships of organizations across the state and the interest, help, action, and participation of citizens like you. Kathleen Gonzalez is the Communications and Program Coordinator at Farm to Table and a founding member of the New Mexico Food & Agriculture Policy Council. She can be contacted at kathleen@farmtotablenm.org.

edible Santa Fe · Spring 2013

Profile for edible New Mexico

Edible Santa Fe Spring Issue 2013  

Edible Road Trip: In this issue, we take both a philosophical and practical look at the road trip in particular, and traveling in general, w...

Edible Santa Fe Spring Issue 2013  

Edible Road Trip: In this issue, we take both a philosophical and practical look at the road trip in particular, and traveling in general, w...