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Falling in line with its mission to help people live full, healthy lives at home and in their communities, Electronic Caregiver of Las Cruces is partnering with Casa de Peregrinos (CdP) Emergency Food Program to feed the hungry this holiday season.
Electronic Caregiver, a Las Cruces-based health technology company, is among several partners working to raise money and collect food donations for the local food pantry’s annual Hope for the Holidays Turkey Drive.
The program’s main distribution event will be at 8 a.m. Monday, Nov. 23, at the New Mexico State University Aggie Memorial Stadium parking lot.
“For us to be able to help people – not just with their health care, like we’re doing with our products and services but also with their whole life – just becomes so rewarding, particularly in the time of COVID- 19,” said Electronic Caregiver Chief Digital Health Integration Officer Mark Francis, who noted the pandemic has had a significant impact on the hungry in New Mexico, which ranks eighth in the country in food insecurity.
According to a recent Feeding America study, the 315,990 New Mexicans who did not have adequate access to nutritious food before the pandemic is predicted to grow to 434,570, or 21 percent in 2020. Signs of higher rates have already crept up in Doña Ana County, in which 15.7 percent of people experience hunger.
“The thing we noticed right away was that people who had fallen off the program were now returning to CdP for services,” said CdP Executive Director Lorenzo Alba Jr. “We've seen a slight increase in numbers here in Las Cruces with much larger increases in the rural communities during this COVID-19 crisis. We are prepared to see the need increase in the coming months and holiday season.”
COVID-19 also is impacting this year’s Turkey Drive. To ensure everyone’s safety, the public is encouraged to make monetary donations online at CasadePeregrinos.org or via ElectronicCaregiver.com.
Donations will go directly to CdP to purchase turkeys and other traditional Thanksgiving meal items, like stuffing, corn and green beans. The deadline for donations is Friday, Nov. 20. The program’s main distribution event will take place in a drive-through format.
“People will come up, they’ll give us a ticket, we’ll load up their food in their trunk or in their car, and they just drive through,” Alba said. “We need to take every safety precaution possible to make sure we’re able to safely serve the families in our community.”
Alba said it doesn’t take much to make a difference in a family’s life.
“With a simple $25 donation, you’re able to basically feed a family – that includes a turkey and all the fixings, and to me, that is something huge,” he said.
The Hope for the Holidays Turkey Drive began as a small project more than 10 years ago and has continued to grow, with more organizations, businesses and individuals joining the cause.
“Last year, we were able to feed about 4,000 families, and we wouldn’t have been able to do that without partnering with the right people,” Alba said, adding that, this year, CdP aims to feed about 3,000 people.
“We never really know how many people we’re going to feed,” he said. “We always try to feed more people.”
Along with its public fundraiser, Electronic Caregiver will host an internal food drive to collect canned goods and other items for the cause.
“There’s been a lot of talk about the social determents of health and how food, nutrition, transportation and social isolation contribute to someone’s health, with food being a major factor,” Francis said. “If we can be part of making sure folks are receiving quality food, quality nutrition and have access to that in addition to getting the type of oversight, emergency assistance and health monitoring from us, we are looking at someone holistically and being part of a solution for their holistic needs.”
Other CdP partners include El Paso Electric, Walmart, La Casa, Inc., Citizen’s Bank, Calvary Baptist Church of Las Cruces and Wilson Binkley Advertising & Marketing.
Casa de Peregrinos was founded in April of 1979 by four La Mesa residents: Manuela Moreno, Rosario Rodriguez, Alphonso de los Santos and Lucy Martinez.
The mission of CdP is to alleviate hunger in the community through the acquisition and distribution of nutritious food. As part of that mission, the food pantry promotes public awareness of hunger in Doña Ana County and works to secure broad-based support for hunger prevention and relief in the county.
For more information visit CasadePeregrinos.org.