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AARP New Mexico to Help Drive to End Hunger

AARP is collaborating with four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Jeff Gordon and team owner Rick Hendrick in a three-year sponsorship of Gordon’s No. 24 car.

AARP, the AARP Foundation, Jeff Gordon and Hendrick Motorsports are working together on the “Drive to End Hunger” campaign. The campaign, whose slogan will emblazon Gordon’s cherry red car, is part of an effort to increase awareness of the 51 million Americans facing the threat of hunger, nearly 6 million of whom are over the age of 60.

According to a recent article in the Albuquerque Journal, New Mexicans miss more than 100 million meals a year. The article was based on a study titled Missing Meals in New Mexico and commissioned by a number of organizations including the New Mexico Collaboration to End Hunger, the Roadrunner Food Bank and PNM.

The New Mexico Collaboration to End Hunger states that overall one in six New Mexicans don’t know where their next meal is coming from and that also applies to one out of four children and one out of eight seniors.

“It’s a problem that often people don’t think about outside of the holidays,” said Beth Velasquez, AARP New Mexico State Associate Director of Communications. “When you think about people hungry or starving you think about people in foreign countries that are often featured on TV by charitable organizations. We don’t stop to think that there are people who are going without food or trying to choose between food and utilities in our very own communities.”

“What the Drive to End Hunger campaign is designed to do is shine a spotlight on the problem of hunger here in America and right here in New Mexico. The recession has also really impacted the ability of food banks and other charitable organizations to serve people as their resources have been substantially reduced,” Velasquez said.
AARP New Mexico is in the process of planning several food drives and other events in 2011 to gather food and remind people that hunger is an issue that together we can actually solve. But there are also ways people can help individuals right in their own community.

AARP’s initiative entitled Create the Good encourages people to volunteer and give back right in their own communities. On the Create the Good website are a variety of activities and tool kits that individuals and groups can use to tackle issues in their community whether someone wants to spend five minutes, five hours or five days on a project.

Among those activities is how to organize a food drive right in your hometown. If you don’t want to organize your own food drive, you can volunteer at a local food bank or talk to your church pastor and see what you can do to help.
“It might not seem like a lot to bring a perishable item to your church or to a local food bank but it can mean so much to the person waiting to receive that item on the other end. So even committing to bring a food item once a month can make a world of difference and costs most of us so little – that’s just one way to help,” Velasquez said.

For more information on AARP New Mexico’s efforts to fight hunger look for updates on the AARP New Mexico web site. To learn more about hunger and what you can do, check out Create the Good and select the fight hunger campaign button.

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