Roadrunner Food Bank has partnered with First Choice Community Healthcare to provide healthy food boxes every other week at six of their clinics, including Edgewood.

Jessica Osenbrügge, the community initiatives manager for health and wellness at Roadrunner, said the partnership started in September 2019 as a way for patients to be able to pick up food at the same time that they’re coming in for appointments and checkups.

“We really wanted to have a health-focused option for patients,” she said. “The clinics began a process of screening for food insecurity, medical providers checking with their patients on food insecurity, and then offering them different options, but making the options healthier since so many of the patients are managing chronic health problems or ongoing health conditions.”

Because of Covid-19, Osenbrügge said the need for food for families has “significantly increased.”

“Our recent data indicates that one in five adults in New Mexico are food insecure and seeking food,” she said. “One in three children are food insecure, and with the Covid-19 global pandemic that has really exacerbated challenges with all kinds of social needs including accessing food … Having an access point at a health care facility, a healthcare clinic, a primary care provider, is another great way for community members to get food.”

Danielle Larrañaga, health center manager at the Edgewood First Choice Clinic, said that because of the pandemic, anybody is eligible for the food boxes, not just patients of the clinic. She also said Roadrunner is not asking about income or household size and families are using the distribution.

“Roadrunner Food Bank delivers 50 boxes of food every two weeks that we can help feed families in the East Mountains,” she said. “So far it’s been pretty successful. I think the highest we’ve done is the whole 50. Last month we did 100. It has helped the community. We’ve had families that come to every single distribution and then we have new ones that just come maybe once.”

Britney Evans, business office manager at the First Choice in Edgewood said that people can also get help to sign up for things like Medicaid, cash assistance, or LIHEAP when they come to the clinic for food boxes as well.

“Everyone’s real thankful when they come through,” she said.

According to a press release from Roadrunner and First Choice, more than 1,731 patient families have been reached including 1,252 seniors, 2,835 adults and 2,030 children, or a total of 6,117 people. From Sept. 2019 through June 2020, more than 34,480 pounds of food have been provided.