USDA Secretary Vilsack Visits New Mexico,
Conducts Roundtable to Discuss Nutrition Programs

Visit by USDA Secretary Vilsack and Congresswoman Leger Fernandez
Highlights by the USDA Food & Nutrition Service Southwest Region News

n his first visit to the Southwest Region since retaking office in February, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack traveled to Albuquerque, New Mexico and joined local community leaders for a roundtable discussion about the intersection of farming and nutrition programs like Farm to School, local sourcing for school meals and farmers markets in New Mexico. 

His visit began at the Five Sandoval Pueblos, Inc., Food Distribution on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) Program warehouse where he was given a tour of the facility by the FDPIR Program Director Florence Calabaza. The FDPIR provides USDA foods to income-eligible households living on Indian reservations and to Native American households residing in designated areas near reservations. During his visit he had the opportunity to learn more about the Pueblos’ food distribution program and how it benefits members of the local community.

After touring the facility, he conducted media interviews alongside New Mexico’s Third District Congresswoman Teresa Leger Fernandez where they discussed the USDA’s plans to ensure New Mexico children and families have access to healthy and nutritious food through the Biden Administration’s American Families Plan. One impact the plan will have in New Mexico is the expansion of the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). CEP allows the nation’s highest poverty schools and districts to serve breakfast and lunch at no cost to all enrolled students without collecting household applications. With the New Mexico CEP expansion, approximately 92,000 more children would have access to free school meals increasing the total enrollment to more than 280,000. 

The highlight of the visit was a roundtable discussion with more than a dozen state officials and community leaders who gathered to share their perspectives on how USDA can continue to support agriculture and nutrition across New Mexico. Farm to Table and the NM Food & Agriculture Policy Council were invited to participate and provided the Congresswoman and USDA Secretary with the state of child nutrition policy priorities.