For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you made me welcome…
For many years the food bank at St. Joseph’s Apache Mission Church has faithfully served the Mescalero Apache community, providing assistance to anyone on the reservation in need regardless of religion affiliation. Sister Robert Ann Hecker remembers back to 1995 when the Mescalero Ministerial Alliance established the food bank and she agreed to direct it. “It was located at St. Joseph’s because space was available there,” she said. “Flour, rice, beans, pasta, canned goods and occasionally a small amount of beef have been the main items needed to distributed. We do not receive any government grants but keep going on donations, including those from the Inn of the Mountain Gods casino, the postal workers and a collection from the community at Lenten services. Donations also arrive occasionally from area businesses and members of the community who are encouraged to also support the food bank.
Brian, Jennifer, and Lauren Wright have been major donors to the food bank. Brian’s maternal family is from New Mexico and he claims Apache heritage. They are active in the Mid-America All Indian Center in Wichita, Kansas. In 2012 they visited Mescalero and brought an SUV full of food and other household supplies to the food bank. They also coordinated efforts with UPS to have half a ton of flour shipped for no cost from the Hudson Flour Mill in Kansas. Since that first visit they have made several trips with their SUV full of supplies and have hosted fundraisers in Wichita to raise funds to assist the food bank and youth activities. This year they raised $7,200.00 for St. Joseph’s Apache Mission.
Thanksgiving is a special time for the Mescalero community and the Wrights. Last year their goal was to have at least 30 meals available for families. They outdid it and donated 38-42 turkeys. They plan to continue the goal this year and will bring the turkeys in their SUV, weather permitting. “We deeply appreciate everyone’s efforts to help us,” said Sister Robert Ann.
The food bank at Mescalero is open Tuesday through Friday from 10 am to 3 pm. The telephone number to call for more information is 575-464-4473.