Moving Arts Espanola To Start Healthy Meals Program, Tutoring
By ROBERT NARANJO
Moving Arts Espanola (MAE) is on course to have an after school nutritious pre-dinner meal for students enrolled in its programs. Why a snack program for the afterschool programs at MAE? Executive Director, Salvador Ruiz, told the Valley Daily Post that they have found that their “students have trouble with their attention span because they have not had anything to eat since lunch time. Then after school, they come straight over here,” he said. Ruiz added that parents do prepare a snack for after school, but the kids eat it at lunch.
According to the Anne E. Casey Foundation who for 25 plus years has published the KIDS COUNT Data Book. New Mexico is ranked 49 out of 5O in its most recent survey and the state is usually “ranked in the bottom five.” New Mexico has never received a better ranking than 4Oth for the “well being of its children,” according to the Data Book. Not surprisingly, New Mexico is one of the worst states “in which to be a kid.” What‘s worse is that the stats on the well being of the state’s children “are no longer news” to New Mexicans.
Artistic Director and Co-Founder of MAE, Roger Montoya, said that it is “heart-breaking” to see kids across New Mexico go hungry. “An after school program like this is, quintessentially, why we made it happen. It’s the perfect combination of nutrition and exercise.” he added.
Ruiz gave a Valley Daily Post reporter a tour of the MAE kitchen area being remodeled to meet state compliance before a new “Healthy Meals Program” is launched later this month. In place already are new stainless steel refrigeration units. Work is progressing steadily with stainless steel sinks added to the existing one in place now to be used for different purposes in the kitchen. And, fluorescent lights will be covered with shields for safety and all exit signs at doors will be have lighting to meet state compliance. Work should be completed by the time the first meal is served according to Ruiz. He also said that all kitchen volunteers would be trained in food preparation.
Artistic Director and MAE Co-Founder, Roger Montoya, said in a statement to the Valley Daily Post:
“Very soon, MAE will launch a new, FREE, healthy evening meal to 100 Moving Arts Espanola’s children, youth and families every day Monday -Thursday after school between the hours of 3-6 pm.
It is the result of a collaborative program funded in part by the Frost Foundation, Siete Del Norte has provided restaurant equipment, HELP New Mexico will contribute food reimbursement funding and the Sikh Community has offered menu planning and prep / serving volunteerism.
The tasty and culturally diverse menu will be based on a healthy vegetarian combination of legumes, grains and vegetables. Foods will be procured from local farmers whenever possible and when in season.
In addition, MAE will launch a Free Tutorial Program after school for students enrolled in its arts programs at the MAE Center. United Way of Northern New Mexico has provided funding to train and hire High School students from EVHS with a high GPA to mentor younger students across all subjects. All programs will start on September 19. All students must be enrolled in MAE programs to participate in the upcoming Free Tutorial Programs.”
–Roger Montoya, Artistic Director and Co-Founder
Moreover, Ruiz said that discussions are being held with Zia Credit Union for their staff to serve at MAE as volunteers. That should be “finalized soon,” he said. Ruiz added that anyone who desires to volunteer can stop at MAE or call 577-6629. Anyone is welcome to volunteer; you do not have to have a child enrolled at MAE to help.
Moving Arts Espanola serves area students in the visual arts, theatre, gymnastics, and singing. Their students come from the Espanola Public Schools, regional charter, private, and other public schools. They are located on Eagle Drive at the MAE Dome at San Juan/Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo.