Kristi Leigh Salazar


Being raised in the beautiful Española Valley, I have seen our communities flourish, and the people from them continuously support one another through good times and hard times. I have seen the urgent needs of Northern New Mexicans shift over time, especially given the unprecedented situation we recently faced.

A pandemic has affected our communities and their people. We need more from one another now than ever before. Our world shifted and has suffered immensely over the last 18 months or so. Folks have lost their loved ones, lost their source of income and have lost more than they prepared to lose. As we faced these uncertain times, local organizations were forced to stand up and step up. The Food Depot is one of many organizations that stepped forward during this time of need, as they have continued to feed families in Northern New Mexico since 1994. As a nonprofit organization with a total of 145 partner agencies, The Food Depot strives to create healthy, hunger-free communities in nine counties, and that is needed now more than ever.

I am proud to be a part of The Food Depot by serving as a board member and supporting the organization’s initiatives to ensure food to those in need during such tumultuous times. The Food Depot acted quickly in response to understanding the many constraints that families and individuals were facing. Schools were closed, access to food decreased, jobs were lost and financial insecurity hit everyone. The Food Depot found new and efficient ways to access food sources and created emergency drive-thru food distributions to meet the needs of our communities. Since the pandemic, The Food Depot has hosted weekly drive-thru food distributions, continued to service all nine counties, has created a safe working environment for staff and volunteers, and has raised enough funds to meet the heightened need.

I am also proud to be an employee of Del Norte Credit Union, a local not-for-profit financial institution whose mission is to improve lives and provide our members with financially sound advice. DNCU is a longstanding supporter of The Food Depot. When the pandemic started, many businesses were forced to shut down, and high-risk individuals were advised to stay at home. In that moment, DNCU supported my request for increased volunteer hours at The Food Depot. This gave me the opportunity to support the emergency drive-thru food distribution sites. For many years, DNCU has contributed financially to support monthly mobile food pantries in four rural service areas and shifted its support to the emergency drive-thru food distribution sites when it was needed. DNCU has a longstanding history of giving back in support of the well-being of our communities, and this partnership holds true to the credit union philosophy of people helping people. I am dually proud of my participation in continuing to strengthen the relationship between the two.

It is my pleasure to work for an organization like Del Norte Credit Union. It truly believes in improving the lives of those around us. I am also proud to stand with my colleagues of The Food Depot, who go above and beyond to support our people when times are hard and especially when times are most difficult. I hope you can take some time to visit both organizations and the great work we are doing.

Kristi Leigh Salazar is an Española native, community outreach professional and a nonprofit volunteer.

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