President's March Column

It’s that time of the year again, when you’ve typically made enough money since the beginning of the year to pay, on average, your food bill for the entire year. That used to be the impetus for “Food Check Out Day” and county farm bureau’s across the state would host events at their local grocery store showcasing the affordability of America’s food supply. Well food in America is still more affordable than most of the world and our counties are still hosting events at grocery stores, but now they have a new name – “Our Food Link.”

Why the change? Because it gives us an opportunity to tout our healthy and nutritious products all year long. Rather than just focus all events during a narrow time frame, the rebranding allows us to spread them out throughout the year, and in the process, gain greater awareness for agriculture.

Of course many activities will remain the same, such as the relationship between NMF&LB’s Women’s Leadership Committee and the Ronald McDonald House in Albuquerque. For over a decade WLC members and local 4-H’ers have gathered to shop for this worthwhile charity. If you’re not familiar with the Ronald McDonald House, count your lucky stars. But they have an amazing mission, to provide “Comfort, care and a home away from home for families whose children are in medical treatment.” They got their start recognizing that “Every day New Mexico families with critically ill children travel to Albuquerque for essential medical care not available in their own community. Kids in medical crisis need their parents nearby, and families need a temporary home while supporting their ill children. Staying at a hotel is not financially possible. Providing unduplicated services since 1982, the Ronald McDonald House Charities of NM has provided temporary lodging to thousands of families facing this challenging situation.”

The WLC has donated over $10,000 to this worthy cause and this year was no exception as they held their shopping event on February 16th. Volunteers shopped and then labeled the items so they could be stocked in the RMH pantries and freezers. Other counties hold similar events, Luna County FLB teams up with 4-H’ers and local CowBelles to assist a local battered women’s shelter and Chaves County FLB’s donation goes to The Assurance Home in Roswell. Socorro hosts a contest between teams made up of 4-H and FFA students to see who can come the closest to the given total they’re supposed to shop for with the beneficiary being divided between the Socorro Store House and Puerto Seguro, a food pantry in Socorro. Jardin de los Ninos, a shelter for homeless children is the recipient of Dona Ana County FLB’s annual donation, while in Lea County they shop for Cornerstone Ministries.

If your county is interested in hosting a Food Link event, AFBF has quite a few suggestions. You can initiate an “Adopt a Farmer” program where your members make visits to classrooms and then host those students at your farm or ranch for a field trip. Or how about a summer reading program at your local library where you read books about agriculture to students and then donate the book to the library? You can connect with local health conscious foodies by being a sponsor for a local 10K run. Or connect with consumers by hosting a sample table at the local grocery store where in the process of passing out food items you can share your story of farming and ranching. Maybe your county farm bureau has a booth at the local fair - you could offer a scavenger hunt with prizes for those that can find the answers to questions about farming and ranching in your area. The opportunities are limitless!

Thank you to all the counties who are currently active with Food Link events, and we look forward to learning about those who are getting their events off the ground. Let’s share the good word about farming and ranching while being “Farm Bureau Proud!”