By James Jimenez, Albuquerque Journal Mar. 27, 2020 As the world energy markets have shown in the past few weeks, New Mexico’s over-reliance on oil and gas revenue leaves our state vulnerable – not just [...]
For the most part, I found New Mexico’s social workers to be kind, strong individuals. It also seemed evident that they are being asked to do one of the most difficult jobs in state government. Helping to decide the fate of children is no small matter, and even the best-intentioned decisions can go terribly wrong.
According to New Mexico Voices for Children "there are major challenges when it comes to having enough food to eat, but there are common-sense policy solutions that we can take to end food insecurity and improve children’s health, well-being, and opportunities to reach their full potential."
New Mexico Voices for Children, the Southwest Organizing Project, state Sen. Mimi Stewart, state Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, state Rep. G. Andrés Romero, and three residents of the impacted area filed a Complaint for Injunctive Relief in federal court Monday against the Air Force and the Department of Defense.
The lawsuit is being brought by a coalition that includes the nonprofit groups Southwest Organizing Project and New Mexico Voices for Children; state Sen. Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque; state Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, D-Albuquerque; state Rep. Andrés Romero, D-Albuquerque; and Albuquerque residents Lucille Cordova, Reynaluz Juarez and Dante Smith.
“Ensuring an accurate census count is crucial for improving child well-being in our state because so much of the funding for health, education, and food security programs that New Mexico kids depend upon is determined by the census,” said Amber Wallin, deputy director of New Mexico Voices for Children.
Officials with Kids Count, nonprofit that advocates for children, said the governor’s $100,000 donation to the newly-created New Mexico Hunger Action Fund is a step in the right direction. “But we also know we need to think bigger,” said Amber Wallin, director of Kids Count. “In order to really address childhood hunger in New Mexico, we need to think about wages, we need to think about tax policy in New Mexico, we need to make sure our low-income working families in New Mexico are prioritized."
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is promising to end child hunger in New Mexico within a year. “Maybe that's too high of a goal, I don't care,” Lujan Grisham said at the Kids Count Conference. “New Mexico needs to institute universal food security services and programs in this state and every single philanthropic partner has to be dedicated to making sure no child in this state will ever go hungry again ..."
Our constituents live over this plume. They deserve a specific, detailed clean-up plan with enforceable timelines instead of a 20-year science experiment.
Noting New Mexico’s Public Education Department is under a court order to make more investments in its schools, James Jimenez, executive director of the nonprofit New Mexico Voices for Children, said in an email that increasing those rates in the future is “just plain common sense” and will help the state meet the court mandates to improve public education.