SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – With the rise of COVID-19 last year, there came a shortage of access to groceries for many communities. One organization created a mobile grocery store that allows people from all around the state to take home fresh, locally grown produce during the pandemic.
MoGro Mobile Groceries is a project of the Santa Fe Community Foundation and operates two different programs to provide fresh groceries to the community. The first is their emergency food access program that sends emergency bags with fresh, local produce and staple grocery items to isolated, tribal and refugee communities.
MoGro works with nonprofits and donors to provide their COVID-relief food boxes to these communities. Director Josh Norman said they’re trying to get food to people beyond the processed and prepackaged basics. “A lot of the food relief right now is more oriented around getting people enough just to get through. There’s a lot less focus on what are people missing from a balanced diet and what people need to keep their families feeling healthy and excited about what they’re eating,” Norman said.
Norman said they also try to provide New Mexican food staples like tamales, tortillas and green chile, which people have responded extremely well to. He said when they work with communities to bring in food, they always ask what they need and what’s missing so they can try to fill the gap. They make it a priority to work with local farmers and producers when they can.
Juliana Cojo from the Ramah Navajo Chapter Office of Grants and Contracts said they’ve been working with MoGro for most of the duration of the pandemic and are appreciative to them for helping their community get back on their feet. “The team as a whole was looking at these first three months being critical and to make sure we’re still providing food or an access to food for people. We think this is a long term endeavor past this emergency order because food systems have changed, and a lot of the information we’re getting in is that it’ll take two to three years for food systems to recover from this,” Cojo said.
The Ramah Navajo Chapter Office plans to provide locals with seeds and help with farming to ensure the community grows its own good systems. “We’re just looking into different ways that we can support locally produced food, not just through farming but through livestock,” Cojo said.
The other MoGro program is their sliding scale grocery distribution. Customers can go online and order their groceries before picking them up at the distribution site later in the week. They have specially priced bags for people paying with EBT or essential workers. If people can afford it, MoGro asks customers to buy the bags with prices comparable to grocery stores in order to keep the program going. The idea behind it is to provide a safe alternative to going to the grocery store for people who might not have that option. Weekly distributions for the sliding scale program are offered in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Pecos and Espanola.