Report: Food Tax Could be Detrimental to Health of Low-income New Mexicanss


Assessment of food tax shows costs could outweigh benefits


ALBUQUERQUE—Reinstating a tax on the sale of food for consumption at home could harm the health of New Mexicans who are already food insecure—meaning they don’t always have enough to eat. And while the revenue generated from a tax on food could be used to mitigate some of the damage the tax would do, the report finds that it is unlikely governments would spend the new revenue toward that end.


The child advocacy group New Mexico Voices for Children released its report, “A Health Impact Assessment of a Food Tax in New Mexico,” today in advance of the Thanksgiving holiday. The report looks at three possible outcomes of a food tax: that families would maintain their current food purchasing patterns, leaving less money for other necessities such as medication and health care; that families would spend the same amount of money on food, but be able to purchase less of it (or substitute less-expensive, less-nutritious foods); and that state or local governments would collect more revenue, which could impact their spending patterns.


“When all is said and done, taxing food will hurt those New Mexicans who are already hurting the most,” said Veronica C. García, Ed.D., executive director of NM Voices. “Almost a third of our state’s children don’t get enough to eat—even with school meals, SNAP benefits and food banks. How can we, in good conscience, expect them to do with even less food?


“While most New Mexicans will be celebrating Thanksgiving with abundant food, we must remember that many, many New Mexicans who don’t get enough to eat, not just during the holidays, but all year long. We hope lawmakers will keep these children and their families in mind if they debate food tax legislation,” she added.


The report is a health impact assessment (HIA), which follows specific protocols. Among them is a review of academic literature, research and data, and interviews with stakeholders. For the stakeholder interviews, NM Voices held three focus groups around the state—in Albuquerque, Vado and Gallup—in which New Mexicans who were low-income, food-insecure, or eligible for SNAP benefits talked about how they thought a tax on food would impact them.


“The focus groups were very informative and really brought the whole tax issue to the level of real people and the problems they already face,” said Amber Wallin, MPA, who was the lead author of the HIA. “People talked about having to decide between buying food and paying the electric bill or buying their prescription meds. Some talked about having to buy cheap, filling—but not very good-for-you—food just to have something to eat. And even though a food tax might cost a family just $25 more a month, one participant talked about how $25 is a small fortune when you don’t have a penny to your name.”


Quotes from the focus group participants and other stakeholders are included in the report, along with demographic information about New Mexico’s food-insecure and low-income residents. The HIA also looks at how tax revenue could be used to improve health outcomes. “Based on current spending patterns, however, it is very unlikely that revenue from a food tax would be spent in such a way that would mitigate the harm done,” Dr. García said.


It is likely that legislators will consider taxing food during the upcoming 2016 legislative session. A food tax has been discussed as a way to allow cities and counties to recoup some of the revenue they are losing since the hold harmless payments from the state were changed in an omnibus tax bill enacted in 2013. A food tax has also been discussed as part of a tax system overhaul that would result in a lower gross receipt tax rate overall.


The HIA was supported by a grant from the Health Impact Project, a collaboration of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Pew Charitable Trusts. The full report (http://www.nmvoices.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/HIA-report-full-web.pdf) and executive summary (http://www.nmvoices.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/HIA-report-exec-sum-web.pdf) are available online.



States of Terror


Posted on Nov 22, 2015


Calling all Entrepreneurs: Startup Weekend Las Cruces, Nov. 13-15



Do you have a great idea for a startup?

You’re invited to Startup Weekend Las Cruces,  Nov. 13-15. Be ready to “pitch” an idea on Friday evening. Teams will form based on votes for the best ideas.

Your team will have 54 hours to develop a minimum viable product and present your business “demo” before a panel of judges on Sunday afternoon.

The event is open to the public.

Location: Arrowhead Park, 4605 Research Park Circle, Las Cruces.

Ticket Price: $75, which includes meals and snacks for the weekend. Students, with ID, may attend for $25.

To Register: Go to lascruces.startupweekend.org/

Contact: Zetdi Sloan, 575.646.7833


Additional information:

Startup Weekends are 54-hour events designed to provide superior experiential education for technical and non-technical entrepreneurs. The weekend events are centered on action, innovation, and education.


Beginning with Friday night pitches and continuing through testing, business model development, and basic prototype creation, Startup Weekends culminate in Sunday night demos to a panel of potential investors and local entrepreneurs.


Participants are challenged with building functional startups during the event and are able to collaborate with like-minded individuals outside of their daily networks.



La Semilla: Fall at the Farm

Raices de Tradición Youth Program
Our third and final session of 2015 wrapped up this past Saturday with youth leading a Healthy Holiday Cooking Workshop.  Raices youth have gathered every Thursday and Saturday for the past 10 weeks, learning about soil health and cultivation, seasonality,  preparing healthy meals with farm fresh produce, and exploring issues within food justice and food systems change.  Youth have been integral to the success of the farm, helping to plant and maintain over 25 varieties of crops this year and they most recently helped to prepare for the first frost of the season.

Edible Education Farm Boxes
Teachers from Gadsden Independent School District and Las Cruces Public Schools participating in La Semilla’s Edible Education professional development workshops are incorporating activities, recipes and lessons into the classroom using farm fresh produce.  Over the last two months, La Semilla Community Farm has provided farm boxes featuring tomatoes, cucumbers, spinach and radish.  Teachers and students alike have repeatedly expressed enthusiasm for the wonderful flavors of farm fresh produce.

3rd Annual Día de los Muertos
Thanks to all who attended and brought wonderful dishes of food to share!  Together, we built a beautiful altar and celebrated life and death as a community.  Thanks also to youth in our Raices program for leading lots of great activities and preparing farm fresh dishes for all!

First Frost brings opportunity for Community Gleaning
The first freeze of the season brought an opportunity for community members to help glean and take home the last of summer’s bounty.  Over 150 pounds of produce were harvested by community members, neighbors of the Farm, and Raices participants and family members.

Cover Crop Workshop Field Demonstration and Farm Walk
In early October, the farm hosted a Workshop on Cover Crops and Cover Crop Rotation for Organic Production.  A Big Thank You to the NMSU Organic Transition Team and the NMSU Cooperative Extension Service/ USDA Organic Transition Project for their continued support and guidance!

Community Education
Students from Gadsden Independent School District’s Special Education Program have been assisting us at the farm every Friday, helping to clear summer beds and clean and save seeds from our hoop house cow pea rotation.  They also learn about the farm ecology and seasons while getting to taste both familiar and new fruits and vegetables, such as kiwano melons.

Anthony High School
La Semilla Community Farm has also been leading a series of public cooking workshops hosted at Anthony High School.  Thanks to Anthony High School for providing a venue for the workshops. Workshops are open to the public and feature healthy recipes and traditional foods from the Southwest.


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