The wonderful Community Activists for Food Security (CAFS) students from Bosque School are giving back by bringing the holidays early to the Storehouse and our clients. As COVID hit, the Storehouse saw a shift in our demographics. Many people who had never been to the pantry before, started visiting and using our services. The number of homeless clients also surged. The Bosque School CAFS stepped up and provided the Storehouse and our community some much needed help.
CAFS: Giving Back, Fighting for Food Security, and Securing Food Justice
You might ask: what is CAFS? CAFS is a service learning group that combats food insecurity. According to Bosque School’s website, members work “to gain an understanding of food justice and volunteer to help alleviate food insecurity through community-based systems that promote equitable access to nutritious food.” They do this by working with organizations like the Storehouse. To CAFS, food security goes beyond just feeding people; it’s about obtaining and securing food justice for our community.
Food justice fights inequity and discrimination to create a sustainable food system that provides people with both nutritious and culturally appropriate foods. Celebrating native peoples’ foundation in our community, centering the regional culture and heritage of local food, and inter-generational mentoring with respecting elders are all part of the food justice movement.
Low income communities of color are the worst affected by food insecurity and poor nutrition. We see that right here in New Mexico, where 1 in 3 children is going hungry right now. Hunger creates a negative ripple effect on health and education, as well. If kids go hungry they have more trouble paying attention in school. They are also not as healthy as other children.
The Holidays Came Early thanks to CAFS!
Thanks to this motivated group, the holidays came early to the Storehouse this year! CAFS donated over 100 pieces of luggage, backpacks, and bags for our clients. These gifts help clients who come on foot to the pantry to easily carry their food home. A suitcase makes a world of difference for a person experiencing homelessness, or for someone who doesn’t own a car and must transport their groceries home via the bus system. It warmed our hearts to give away such gifts. The students also crafted handmade cards that offered words of encouragement. Those were a kindness included in the luggage.
Partnering with the community for the biggest impact
In addition, the CAFS students participated in a project planning workshop. Working with a local architecture firm, FBT Architects, the students figured out ways to keep clients warm and dry as they waited outside for food. The critical thinking teens then shared their ideas with the Storehouse operations team. The ideas included using heaters or building scaffolding where clients line up for food. They also worked on some plans for the Storehouse to do mobile food distribution, via cars, if needed.
CAFS students also give back by volunteering
The demand for food has grown during the pandemic and volunteers have dwindled. Thankfully, the Storehouse knew they could depend on Bosque School to help. We changed our operations model due to COVID. While we typically offer an open shopping model, similar to a grocery store, we are now pre-packing food for easier pickup. Each client now receives 8-10 bags or boxes of food. This means we typically need to pre-package 4000 bags or boxes a week. The CAFS team came in and helped on weeks when other volunteers were very low. The Bosque students have been by our side during this time of need and we want them to know how grateful we are. Their care and dedication are an inspiration to our staff.
If you are looking to make a difference this holiday season, please consider donating or volunteering with us. Due to COVID, we have new volunteer requirements. Please visit our website volunteer page for more information. Thank you!