Many New Mexicans live in rural parts of the state. For some, getting the food they need to lead healthy lives can be a day-to-day struggle.

To help, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico (BCBSNM) supports The Food Depot’s Mobile Food Pantry program. The program brings healthy food each month to people in the northern part of the state — places like Abiquiu, Ojo Caliente and Vallecitos.

“The Mobile Food Pantry program serves rural areas of New Mexico where people are living in true food deserts,” said Jill Dixon of The Food Depot in Santa Fe.

People may have to travel up to 100 miles roundtrip to get food, Dixon said. Food deserts have a lack of grocery stores. People who live there may not be able to get healthy foods.

“Very often, our Mobile Food Pantry is the only food assistance that goes into a community,” Dixon said.

In 2018, BCBSNM gave $11,000 to support The Food Depot’s Mobile Food Pantry program. The funding came through BCBSNM’s Healthy Kids, Healthy Families® initiative.

A volunteer, left, with Jill Dixon at The Food Depot.

That funding translates to 45,000 meals. These meals consist of fruits and vegetables, dairy products, beans, rice, and other healthy foods. In total, the Mobile Food Pantry program impacts about 9,100 people each month.

“By providing really balanced food options with fresh produce and proteins and staple items, we’re hoping to help improve the overall community health in Mobile Food Pantry locations,” Dixon said.

Supporting the Mobile Food Pantry program is part of a broader effort to fight hunger. BCBSNM gave $44,000 to Feeding America in 2018. The funding helped The Food Depot and three other food banks: the Food Bank of Eastern New Mexico in Clovis, Casa de Peregrinos in Las Cruces and The Community Pantry in Gallup.

Since 2015, BCBSNM has also donated $60,000 each year to Roadrunner Food Bank in Albuquerque to fund mobile food pantries at schools and senior sites across New Mexico.

“One of our goals is to address health disparities in our state by supporting sustainable programs that have a positive impact on the health and wellness of New Mexicans,” said Eugene Sun, M.D., BCBSNM vice president and chief medical officer.

“Hunger and food insecurity are often tied to chronic health conditions, and more than 327,000 people in New Mexico are hungry,” Sun said. “With partners like Feeding America, we hope to continue to help provide hunger relief and improve nutrition in our communities.”