SOCORRO, N.M. – Socorro General Hospital (SGH) continues to offer free, nutritious meals and snacks to children visiting the hospital as part of its partnership with the United States Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service Southwest Region. In its first year—from February 2016 to February 2017—the program provided 459 meals to children at SGH.
“Easy access to healthy food is essential for the children in our community,” said Veronica Pound, Administrator, Socorro General Hospital. “We are excited that many Socorro children have been able to benefit from this program and hope many more will join us for free, healthy meals this year.”
SGH’s partnership with the USDA Food and Nutrition Service Southwest Region and the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department began in February 2016 when SGH and two other Presbyterian hospitals, Presbyterian Hospital and Plains Regional Medical Center, became the first in New Mexico to offer free meals for children. The program has expanded to a fourth Presbyterian hospital, Presbyterian Kaseman Hospital, and has provided more than 6,425 meals to children in New Mexico.
“We are thrilled to celebrate the one-year anniversary of this partnership with USDA and CYFD to provide free meals to New Mexico children,” said Leigh Caswell, Director, Presbyterian Center for Community Health, Presbyterian Healthcare Services. “At Presbyterian, our purpose is to improve the health of the communities we serve. We work with local and national partners to help solve the problem of hunger in our state because we know that children are healthier when they have nutritious food to eat.”
The USDA operates the federally-funded, state-administered Child and Adult Care Food Program during the school year and the Summer Food Service Program during the summer to serve healthy meals to children and teens in low-income areas at no charge. As part of the program, Presbyterian facilities provide select healthy options for children and then receive reimbursement from the USDA. Meals and snacks must be eaten at the hospital.
In New Mexico, one in six residents struggle with hunger and the state is tied with Mississippi for the highest childhood hunger rate in the nation, according to Feeding America. As part of its investment in community health, Presbyterian is deeply engaged in healthy food initiatives in the state. In addition to the meal site program, Presbyterian focuses on healthy eating strategies in Socorro County that include support of cooking classes, farmer’s market incentive programs, community gardens, and increasing the availability of locally sourced agricultural products.
About Socorro General Hospital
Socorro General Hospital has been owned and managed by Presbyterian Healthcare Services since 1976. Socorro General Hospital and Presbyterian Healthcare Services operate a hospital, a primary care and specialty clinic, community-based programs and home healthcare and hospice services in Socorro County. Socorro General Hospital is one of eight hospitals run by Presbyterian, which also has a statewide health plan and a growing multi-specialty medical group.