Veronica Felix works for Catholic Charities of Southern New Mexico in Deming, New Mexico. When asked how things are going in the small, southwestern town, she replied, “It’s a farmworker town, so it’s seasonal work, and every year we have the same challenges of distributing food and finding employment for people. But this year has been worse.”
The COVID-19 pandemic and the shutdowns aimed at mitigating the spread of the virus have contributed to increased unemployment and food insecurity.
“Deming is already a town with a very high population in poverty,” Felix said. “I don’t know what we’re going to do. The priest from the church is worried. There has been a lot of suicide, because people don’t have enough food; there’s lack of income, lack of work.”
Despite the challenges and hardships brought on by COVID-19, Felix noted a blessing for the townsfolk recently: a delivery on October 13, 2020, of 1,200 food boxes to Deming as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farmers to Families program, which was linked to Catholic Charities in New Mexico by Catholic Charities USA, the national office of the Catholic Charities ministry in the U.S. Another delivery of 1,200 food boxes will take place in Deming on October 26.
People were really happy to receive the boxes, Felix said, especially since they contained meat and dairy products along with fruits and vegetables. Many of the residents of Deming, along with seasonal workers from Mexico, receive a smaller portion of food once a month from another organization, so the Farmers to Families’ boxes were overjoyed.
“I had a conversation with two elderly ladies who had stood in line for over four hours,” Felix said. “They were willing to do it because all they receive each month is a $450 social security check, which they use to pay rent and buy food. Can you imagine how they have to live?”
The boxes of food last about a week or a week-and-a-half, according to Felix. She and the people she serves are looking forward to the next distribution, but in the meantime Felix is on the phone trying to get other organizations to donate food as well.
Felix is also hoping that Congress and the administration will work together to get more relief to people in need. “I would like the representative to come out to these small towns so they can see the poverty that is here,” Felix said. “Telling them about it is one thing, but coming out to see the conditions is another thing. I would tell them to come, to look and see how these people are living so they will be moved to help.”