LAS CRUCES, New Mexico – Las Cruces City Council approved nearly $ 4 million on Monday afternoon for the construction of a new building for the local nonprofit Casa de Peregrinos.
“I want to remind everyone that this is not a Casa de Peregrinos project or a Las Cruces urban project,” said Lorenzo Alba, who has been the food bank’s executive director for a decade. “This is a joint project.”
The money will go to a new 13,000 square foot facility closer to Amador Avenue on the former Horse N Hound Feed N Supply property recently acquired by the city. The cost of the new space is estimated at around $ 7 million.
“We’re pretty cramped,” admits Renea Gutierrez, who works in program support. “We get by with what we have because we are used to limited space.”
Gutierrez told ABC-7 that 30 volunteers are sharing the 4,000-square-foot building to the west of Las Cruces. The Tafel has also rented two refrigerated trucks to store groceries because there is not enough space inside.
According to data from Casa De Peregrinos, New Mexico has the second worst starvation rate among seniors and the third worst among children.
“We serve a community with high poverty,” said Alba. “Many people suffer from food insecurity. “
“Sometimes we don’t have food,” said Teresa Holguin. “That’s why we come here.”
“It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to cook for your family,” said Katie St. Louis-Pigrum, who picked up food with her husband and two daughters. She said the young family lived in a hotel room before they got help from the Community of Hope.
According to the city presentation, the food distribution of the Tafel has increased more than nine-fold since its inception: from 500,000 pounds per year in 2003 to 4.7 million pounds per year in 2021.
The $ 3.75 million comes from the Telshor Fund, which was set up to support health care in the city. In recent years, the city has provided money from the fund for aid to migrants and for Covid-19 aid.