If you do not have to worry about where your next meal is coming from, consider yourselves lucky. If your children have snacks after school and before bedtime, consider your children fortunate. If you have a food pantry or cabinets filled with food you have a charmed life.
Many in our community are less fortunate and struggling with whether to pay bills or buy food. They include folks who are homeless or are living on Social Security, people with disabilities, chronic or mental illness, vets with no or insufficient benefits to make ends meet and immigrants still finding their way. Fortunately, there is a large safety net in Taos to help.
The holiday season is here, and we want to give a big thanks to all the organizations who work so hard to alleviate food insecurity throughout the year in Taos County. The St. James and Shared Table food distribution sites in Taos have become increasingly busy since the beginning of the pandemic. Questa North Central Food Pantry, Peñasco and Carson food pantries and The Giving Tree in Taos are also among groups providing food in the county. Taos Feeds Taos is in its 36th year of providing food boxes – or food coupons now because of COVID difficulties. The 11 Little Free Pantries organized by Taos Immigrant Allies have churches and volunteer stewards refilling boxes daily for 24/7 food needs, spending their own money and time to help those in need.
The Taos Immigrant Allies (TIA) and Sin Fronteras Nuevo México have a special focus on the immigrant population in Taos. There are many opinions about the immigration system in this country. At times it seems helplessly mired. But the immigrants are often the ones who help clean houses, care for our elders, keep restaurants open, clean hotel rooms, fill odd jobs, and bring rich layers of cultural diversity to our town. They are not taking anyone else's jobs, and we can all imagine how much poorer we would be without their contributions (we recommend “A Day Without a Mexican” – a film made in 2004), and yet they struggle to find adequate housing, heating, food and medical help.
Immigrants in Taos come from Europe, Africa and Asia as well as Canada, Mexico, Central and South America. They have many reasons for coming, from extreme social threat, job loss and climate change to simply seeking a better education or uniting a family. Whatever the reason, in Taos they are now Our Immigrants, and TIA is dedicated to lessening the obstacles that keep them from realizing a healthy, secure and productive life as Taoseños.
So, if you are filled with the holiday spirit and looking for a way to help in Taos, we hope you will consider needs that span our broad and diverse community. As individuals and families, we might feel the issues are daunting, but working together we become an immense force for good. Donating what we can to the organizations that are working hard to eliminate food insecurity is one way we can brighten the holidays for all. Donate to St. James, The Shared Table, Taos Feeds Taos, food pantries in Questa, Peñasco and Carson, or consider becoming a Little Free Pantry steward with Taos Immigrant Allies to supply modest food items year-round. Many of us do not need more “things,” but gifts honoring your friends and family to these organizations will help the whole community prosper.