Hunger in New Mexico

Food insecurity exists in every community in the United States.

Hunger in New Mexico is often hidden, but it affects one of every seven adults and one of every five children in our state.

Hunger Has Many Faces

Right now, many of our neighbors are an illness, an accident or an unexpected repair away from experiencing food insecurity.  Children, college students, working families, and seniors: someone you know is or has experienced food insecurity.

The USDA defines food insecurity as a lack of consistent access to enough food for every person in a household to live an active, healthy life. There are many causes for food insecurity, such as poverty, unemployment, disability, illness, or living in an area where prices are high.

Across The Food Depot’s service area, 40,000 individuals experience food insecurity.

Hunger by the Numbers

Childhood Hunger

  • 75% of students in New Mexico schools participate in the free and reduced price lunch program.
  • 99,100 children in New Mexico are food insecure. 

Senior Hunger

  • 63% of senior households served by New Mexico food banks are forced to choose between food and medical care. 
  • The rate of hunger among seniors aged 60 and older has increased by 45% since 2001. 
  • 8.4% of seniors in NM are food insecure; the national average is 7.1% (1 in 14).
  • Seniors and older adults who have a grandchild in the household experience food insecurity at higher rates than those without a grandchild present. In 2021, food insecurity was 2.2 times as high for seniors residing with a grandchild (15.0% vs. 6.8%) and 1.7 times as high for older adults residing with a grandchild (15.4% vs. 9.1%). 

Hunger in Specific Communities 

  • Only 26% of Native communities are within one mile from a supermarket, compared to 59% of all people living in the United States.
  • Latino communities experience hunger at a much higher rate. In 2020, more than 19% of all Latinos in the United States were food insecure.

SNAP/General Food Insecurity

  • 1 in 3 individuals who live in food-insecure homes may not be eligible for SNAP, the nation’s largest food assistance program.  
  • New Mexico has the largest share of residents enrolled in SNAP (21.1%) in the nation; most families receiving SNAP exhaust 79% of their benefits within the first two weeks.  
  • Food insecurity ends up costing, on average, $1,914 in excess medical costs each year for an individual.

Healthy Food/Food Deserts

  • 83% of adults in New Mexico and 79% of children in New Mexico are not eating the recommended 5 or more fruit or vegetables servings per day
  • 84% of households served report buying the cheapest food, instead of healthy food – in order to provide enough to eat.
  • 30% of counties in New Mexico are considered “food deserts,” where individuals lack access to a full-service grocery store within 10 miles of their home. 

The causes of food insecurity are complex. Some of the causes of food insecurity include:

  • Poverty, unemployment, or low income
  • Lack of affordable housing
  • Chronic health conditions or lack of access to healthcare
  • Systemic racism and racial discrimination

Your Donations Count

Out of every dollar you donate, 93 cents goes directly towards providing meals to people in need. Every dollar you donate provides up to four meals for someone experiencing food insecurity.

Your Help Matters

In 2022, with your help, The Food Depot distributed 10 million pounds of food — enough for 8.3 million meals — to people in communities across Northern New Mexico. That translates to 700,000 meals per month. 53% of overall distribution was fruits and vegetables. 23% was protein.