For many employees at The University of New Mexico, winter break is a time to take it easy, get together with family, and celebrate the holidays. But for some, the time off between semesters is also an opportunity to give back to the community by volunteering at the Roadrunner Food Bank of New Mexico (RRFB).
For the third year in row, UNM’s Staff Council organized the volunteer day event over winter break. More than 100 employees and their families turned out to sort, pack, and box thousands of pounds of cereal that will go to feed people in every corner of the state.
Mark Reynolds is a UNM employee and staff council representative, as well as the event’s creator and organizer. This year, he said there were a record number of volunteers.
“I started this event three years ago because we were looking for ways to give back to the community and show just how much The University of New Mexico cares,” Reynolds said.
As the state’s largest anti-hunger organization, Roadrunner Food Bank receives and transports more than 26 million pounds of food every year through a statewide network of smaller food banks, direct service programs, and more than 600 emergency food pantries, group homes, low-income day care centers, shelters, and hot meal programs.
Through that network, RRFB feeds nearly 70,000 people in New Mexico every week. And with a state hunger rate hovering around 1 in 3 people (the national hunger rate is 1 in 6 people), the services RRFB provides are critical to making an impact on hunger in New Mexico.
“We simply could not run as effectively and efficiently without the volunteers, and UNM is a special partner with us,” said Wally Verdooren, chief development officer with RRFB of New Mexico. “It truly is thousands of volunteer hours working together to build a healthier community here in Albuquerque and throughout the state.”
Reynolds said volunteers packed enough cereal to feed more than 18,000 people, a huge contribution to all of work being done to fight hunger in the Land of Enchantment.
“This is important for the University, for the community in New Mexico and Albuquerque, as well as for Staff Council because we believe in paying-it-forward and giving back,” said Reynolds.
UNM’s Staff Council has a long history of dedication to community service. Each year the Staff Council sponsors numerous events to benefit the community.