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.
“The one area where she did do well in, and we give her credit for, is the Medicaid expansion. That had an immediate and dramatic impact on some of the health stats for our children,” Jimenez said. That action cut the child uninsurance rate in half, from 10% down to 5%, with New Mexico zooming past 12 states in that area.
“Laws exist in the U.S. for people to take action when they feel that the government is failing to protect human health and resources,” says Douglas Meiklejohn, New Mexico Environmental Law Center Executive Director.
He adds that jobs designed to capture wasted methane also would enhance the state's economy. "We've seen, for example, in states like Colorado that have enacted commonsense methane-capture regulations, that the industry can adapt and it can be part of growing the economy," he points out.
Sharon Kayne, spokeswoman for New Mexico Voices for Children, said 27% of kids in our state live in poverty, ranking us 49th on this list, tied with Mississippi, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau and compiled by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Only Louisiana fares worse, ranked in 50th place with 28% of kids living in poverty.
"Children do best in families, and being part of a family is a human need and essential to well-being," she said. "So, we'll be really prioritizing finding foster homes, both relative and non-relative, for these youths that are still being sent to group homes or institutions."
The nonprofit New Mexico Voices For Children recently issued a news release that cites an estimate that the feds will have as much as a $1 billion shortfall to pay for the count, along with the dire prediction that “Trump’s underfunding … is likely to hurt NM.”