New Mexico launches food drive for wildfire victims

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico on Wednesday launched a campaign to replenish meat supplies for residents who lost their homes or were forced to evacuate due to a historic wildfire sparked by the federal government.

Many residents in rural parts of northern New Mexico depend on elk, deer and other game for subsistence, and the state Department of Game and Fish is hoping to source meat from hunters and ranchers to replace what was lost as part of the “Fill the Freezers” campaign.

Officials said game animal donations must be frozen solid and securely packaged with a label that identifies the type of meat and its packaging date. Farm animal donations must be in original packaging with a U.S. Department of Agriculture stamp.

A food bank in Santa Fe will collect the donations. The food then will be distributed to those in need.

The wildfire, the largest in New Mexico’s recorded history, charred hundreds of square miles and forced thousands of families to flee. Hundreds of homes were destroyed and many who were able to return to their homes went without electricity as crews worked to stand up new power poles and repair transmission lines.

State officials have been pushing the Biden administration for increased assistance for those affected by this year’s record wildfires and the flooding that has followed.

On Wednesday, the governor’s office announced that the registration period for individual assistance through FEMA for New Mexicans affected by burn scar flooding and debris flows has been extended through Oct. 7.

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