Throughout all of 2020 since the pandemic began, breweries locally and nationally have kept going in their work to help charities throughout New Mexico. On the heels of the annual One for 5 campaign to help The Storehouse New Mexico, another charity drive to keep people fed this holiday season has begun.
Bell’s Brewery and Premier Distributing are stepping up to donate to The Storehouse and two other New Mexico food banks this holiday season. I caught up with Bell’s sales manager Silas Sims and Storehouse spokesperson Jill Beets over Zoom last week to learn more details about the Feeding Our Backyard campaign.
“Basically, I kind of put this to my brewery, I think it was two months ago,” Sims said. “We know, and Jill will elaborate on the need for food in this state and in this city, which is pretty large. We knew that that was the case and we had some extra budget available and we wanted to do something to help the New Mexico market, the people out here. We know with COVID and everything going on, these are things that are needed.
“Essentially in the end, The Storehouse is our main partner for this. We are going to be donating, between Premier and Bell’s, $5,200 to The Storehouse. However, we do have partners in Santa Fe and Las Cruces as well. That is Casa de Peregrinos in Las Cruces, that will be getting about $1,200, and The Food Depot in Santa Fe will get $1,600. We’re trying to make sure that we take care of everybody in New Mexico and we’re really happy to put our best foot forward.”
Wherever Bell’s is sold in New Mexico, look for the special signs.
“We’re going to have displays throughout the market,” Sims said. “Albertsons is one of our biggest partners in this program, where they’re going to be having big displays in all 17 of their stores that will basically have posters that will have a QR code that goes to a specific website that The Storehouse has set up for donations for this program. Our goal is to really try to get the New Mexico community, those with means, to match us on what we’ve done. And, that’s a big push for us. We’re going to have a lot of media going on this, with podcasters, yourself, and a lot of radio stations as well, and the Albuquerque Journal, to try to really push toward getting some extra donations and really helping during the holiday season.”
That help is definitely needed every year, but even more so with the pandemic shutting down many businesses across the state, leaving even more people without any income right now.
“Hunger is an ongoing issue in New Mexico, so the next project is always as appreciated as the one before it,” Beets said. “We had a great partnership with Steel Bender, Sierra Blanca, and Second Street doing the One for 5 beer. We’re really excited to have Bell’s in our fold, and to know more about what happens at The Storehouse. At The Storehouse New Mexico, we feed about 50,000 people a year. This funding, just the gift from Bell’s, the $5,200, will allow us to provide about 26,000 meals, which is incredible. On top of that, people who also contribute and are helping us promote that, that could mean even more meals for people in need. That’s especially important this year when so many people are out of work.”
The craft brewing industry is among those that have had to pare back on employees this year, and with other industries also trimming staff, there are few jobs to be had compared to the time before the pandemic.
“In regards to that, we have reached out to some of our partners in the past to say if you had to lay people off, to remind people that they can come to The Storehouse,” Beets said. “We’re open Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday (from) 9 to noon, that we’re giving out boxes of food. People leave with a full cartful of food, it’s boxed up so it’s easy to take out. It’s shelf-stable food, but they also get meat, dairy products, fruits and vegetables. It’s a such a good shopping cart full of food. If people work at bars, or they’re just homebrewers and they only have that side hustle going and don’t have their main source of income, if they need food, that’s why we’re there to help.”
One does not have to buy any Bell’s beer when donating, but it certainly makes sense to grab some award-winning lagers and ales as a way of saying thank you to the brewery for making these donations.
“We’ll have that QR code available for people to donate,” Sims said. “Obviously, we’re hoping some people out there can get some Bell’s beer as well and enjoy some of our products. We just won, for the fourth year in a row, the Zymurgy award for best brewery and best beer (Two Hearted Ale) in the country, which is pretty big. That’s over 40,000 homebrewers that vote on that poll every year. It’s not just a person in a big office saying what brewery he likes the best.”
Ultimately, this is about doing the right thing, not just about selling more beer.
“(Our goal is) calling to action the need for food in this state and Albuquerque, and trying to really help during this time of crisis, and just having a good story out there,” Sims said. “People are so tired of hearing the politics and being trapped in their houses. A big part of this is a lot of the people affected are bar, brewery, winery and meadery (staff members), a lot of those people are out of work. They may be having issues with paying the bills. By donating to The Storehouse and giving them some funds to help the people, we’re helping the people that help us. That’s very important for us.”
The promotion begins this Sunday and runs through December 31. As Beets noted, there are some good beer-drinking days in there.
“We hope they can buy some Bell’s beer in there, because not only is it tasty beer, but it’s doing good things for The Storehouse as well,” she said.
A pre-holiday cheers to Bell’s and Premier for supporting the food banks in our state. We encourage everyone who is able to donate to do the same. Now we just need some of that anniversary Expedition Stout to make our holidays a little brighter, er, darker.