Las Cruces residents find hope at El Caldito Soup Kitchen
With the holidays around the corner and temperatures dropping in the high desert, finding a hot meal can be difficult for some New Mexicans. To help address hunger in Las Cruces, El Caldito Soup Kitchen on the Community of Hope campus serves hot meals seven days a week to those in need.
Sky Annie Miller said she recently lost her apartment in T or C, so she came to El Caldito for help in her time of need.
“This is a special place,” she said. “The word caring comes to mind, and it’s not often you feel that people really care about you. There’s also just a sense of community among the people. I’ve talked to more people each day than I did in the last six years alone in an apartment. These people, they seem to provide more than you could even think about.”
According to a report by the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness, the number of individuals experiencing homelessness rose 12.9% between 2022 and 2023. This, combined with rising food insecurity in rural areas of the state, have made place like El Caldito a beacon of hope for those who need assistance.
“I think it’s a wonderful thing,” Miller said. “And every community should have something like it so that people are fed when it’s cold, when it’s hot. It’s just people caring, people caring about people that in other places, they’d want to be invisible.”
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, an average of 11.2% of New Mexico households were food insecure between 2020 and 2022. For those with the ability to house and cook for themselves, food pantries like Casa de Peregrinos are an important resource, especially with the loss of emergency SNAP benefits earlier this year. But for individuals without those luxuries like Aaron Myrick, the soup kitchen is often the only place to get a hot meal.
“It’s a balanced diet, it’s real good. I mean, I’m sure there’s fancier restaurants that might be better,” he said. “But everybody is real sweet in there. You know, down here, they don’t look down their nose at you, they treat you just like one of their own.”
Laura Alvarado is the business administrator at El Caldito. She said volunteers serve as many as 350 hot lunches per day, and that’s on top of the new breakfast program that operates every weekday.
“It's not just adults or people my age that come in. We have families that come in with babies a couple of months old, to just a family of kids [with] mom and dad,” she said. “The need is very real right now. I think a lot of us are so busy thinking about our holidays, about Thanksgiving, about Christmas. But let’s not forget the less fortunate in our community.”
Alvarado said that the soup kitchen holds a special place in her heart because it wasn’t long ago that her family needed assistance.
"We never know the cross that somebody else is carrying,” she said. “This is like my home because that's the place that helped me. Casa de Peregrinos helped me when we were little. I remember that. And then three years ago, I just went through a rough patch. And [El Caldito was] here for me.”
Amid rising poverty around the state, Alvarado said there’s always a need for volunteers and resources, whether during the holidays, or any other time of the year.