Coming off of an unusual but successful virtual Community Arts Party last weekend, New Mexico Tech’s Performing Arts Series is ready to go online again this Saturday as it teams up with the New Mexico Food Bank Association for a star-studded concert called Food for Love.

The virtual concert will be from 5-10 p.m. this Saturday, promising performances from more than 50 nationally-known artists, including Jackson Browne, Lyle Lovett, David Byrne, The Chicks, Nathaniel Rateliff, Steve Earle, Shawn Colvin and Elle King, just to name a few. Other special guests include Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, former Governor Bill Richardson, Senator Tom Udall, George RR Martin, Ali MacGraw and Hampton Sides.

100 percent of every dollar raised goes directly to feed the hungry.

PAS Director Ronna Kalish said she is proud to offer “this great event to the Socorro community. Some amazing musicians are on the lineup. And a few who have performed in Socorro. Enjoy!”

The Food for Love virtual concert benefits the New Mexico Association of Food Banks.

“One of the member food banks is Roadrunner which is the principal food donor to Socorro Storehouse,” she said.

Organizers say since COVID-19 struck, New Mexico food banks are overloaded with requests and have struggled to keep up with demand.

According to the food bank association, “poverty and unemployment in New Mexico have reached record levels. Families are caught between paying overdue bills or putting food on the table. One in three children and one in five adults are in danger of going to bed hungry.

“This is why dozens of generous musicians and special guests are coming together to create Food for Love to raise money to provide emergency food relief in every county, Native American Nation and Pueblo in New Mexico,” Food for Love organizers said.

On the local level, with the cancellation this year of one of its biggest annual fundraisers, Empty Bowls, Socorro’s Storehouse, the emergency food pantry that has been serving the needs of Socorro County for 18 years, will benefit from the fundraising concert.

Executive Director Melissa Ramsey, the only paid employee of the Storehouse, oversees a pool of nine volunteers, most of whom are over the age of 60. Money raised by donations goes to pay for weekly food supplies from Roadrunner Food Bank, as well as groceries from John Brooks.

Last year, the Storehouse served 2,508 client households.

“This includes 4,114 adults, 1,438 children, and 825 seniors,” Ramsey said. “When the pandemic hit in March, we worked with other organizations to make sure residents in other parts of the county could get food.”

During the summer of 2020, the Storehouse started a homeless food program.

“Once a week, we provide one bag that contains soup, chili, crackers, snacks, and other food items that will not spoil easily, along with something to drink,” Ramsey said. “All these items are purchased at John Brooks.”

Founded in 2002, the Storehouse provides food and other necessities for an average of 50 to 55 families every week.

“This is the norm but it can be as many as 72 or as few as 20,” Ramsey said. “But the average is 50 to 55. In January we served 155 households. It’s down a little because they’re still getting their food stamps. It’s been extended again.”

Besides needing volunteers to help with the distribution of food, the agency is also in need of donations, both in money and in food.

“Right now we have nine in our volunteer pool for the Tuesday Roadrunner delivery and Thursday pick up,” she said, “On Thursdays, all the clients stay outside and we have our masks on. They come to the first door to sign-in and we call them to the other door to come and get their box.”

The Food for Love virtual concert will take place 5-10 p.m. on Feb. 13 and will be streamed on the organization’s website, Facebook, and YouTube pages. The concert is free, but viewers will be encouraged to donate to the New Mexico Association of Food Banks. Donations can be made live during the event or anytime on the Food for Love website.

Donations can be made directly to Socorro’s Storehouse, as well.

“They can do it one of three ways,” Ramsey said. “They can send a check or money order to our PO box. That is PO Box 701, Socorro. Another one is they can drop it off here during my office hours, Tuesday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The other is they can go onto our website socorrostorehouse.org and there is a link button they can click for PayPal or a credit card. We get a lot of donations through PayPal.”

Food for Love was organized by a group of New Mexico residents who decided to come together to address one of the state’s biggest needs. They include singer-songwriter Terry Allen, his wife, actor-writer Jo Harvey Allen, entrepreneurs Susan and Bill Banowsky, and businessman Stephen Feinberg.

“It was a spark that grew like wildfire with so many artists and dignitaries, and we are so thankful,” Jo Harvey Allen said. “We are thrilled to be able to present such amazing talent from a group of artists that are passionate about helping New Mexicans. This Valentine’s eve concert is our love letter to New Mexico.”

For more information on Food for Love visit www.nmt.edu/pas/2020-2021/food-for-love-concert.php or www.foodforlove.org. Food for Love updates can be found on Facebook @FoodForLoveNM; Instagram @foodforlovenm; and Twitter @Food_for_LoveNM.

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