Adelante’s Desert Harvest Food Rescue program was created in 2001 as a way to provide volunteer opportunities for people with disabilities while helping tackle one of New Mexico’s biggest social issues: hunger.
The program now rescues 1.6 million meals per year, and individuals with disabilities still make up the largest volunteer base for the program. Several days a week, people participating in Adelante’s Community Options programs in Albuquerque and Valencia County pick up food from donors and deliver it to local nonprofits that serve the hungry.
Desert Harvest is a very cost-effective way to fight hunger because the program makes use of an existing but underutilized food source: surplus prepared food from restaurants, hotels, schools, and supermarkets that would have otherwise been thrown away.
There are currently 82 food donors who generously agree to supply surplus food from their restaurants or stores, and 15 agencies that receive food through Desert Harvest. The program has a major impact on the recipient agencies, some of which receive up to 15,000 meals per week from Desert Harvest. The food is given to the agencies at no cost, which allows them to spend money on other programs that address their missions.
This is important work because New Mexico ranks second in the country for childhood hunger. A third of children in this state do not know where their next meal will come from. Chronic hunger and malnutrition can negatively affect the quality of life for anyone, but especially for children who make up 40% of New Mexico’s hungry population. Hungry children have greater difficulty focusing in school, and they tend to grow at slower rates than their well-fed peers.
Desert Harvest provides an effective and efficient solution to eliminating hunger in New Mexico while at the same time reducing food waste and providing volunteer opportunities for individuals with disabilities. Adelante covers the cost of food-safe packaging for this program. If you’d like to donate to help us, visit www.GoAdelante.org/Donate .