Food bank director honored at United Way banquet

Freedom New Mexico: Argen Duncan Betty Ellis, left, talks with Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Nancy Taylor after the United Way of Eastern New Mexico annual banquet Thursday night at Eastern New Mexico University. Taylor is the director of Food Bank of Eastern New Mexico.

By Argen Duncan: Freedom New Mexico

For her 27 years leading the local food bank, Nancy Taylor received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the United Way of Eastern New Mexico annual banquet Thursday night.

The event at Eastern New Mexico University also celebrated the 50th anniversary of the local United Way organization, recognized current and past contributors and looked toward the future.

Taylor said she was overwhelmed and shocked to receive the award.

“I just believe that in the United States of America, there should be no one that is ever hungry,” she said of her reason for serving.

Taylor pointed to the abundant food America can produce and said with a fraction of the country’s economy-running abilities directed toward volunteering, people can receive help.

United Way Executive Director Erinn Burch said the board of directors decided to honor Taylor after noticing their long affiliation with the Food Bank of Eastern New Mexico and realizing Taylor had been at the helm the whole time.

“It’s amazing to me that she’s built that organization from scratch, and every time you run into her, the passion for what she does is unmistakable,” Burch said.

Taylor helped found the food bank, then called Lifesaver Food Bank, in 1983 in collaboration with Altrusa International of Clovis, according to a news release from United Way. United Way has worked with the food bank for most of its existence, said Gaynelle Thomas, who has worked with Taylor through the food bank and Altrusa in Portales.

“She’s a very giving person, giving and loving, and the thing I like best about her is she always wants to give glory to those who have done something,” Thomas said, explaining that Taylor wants everyone to have their due credit.

Taylor always has a smile on her face, even though she has been through the tragedy of losing her son, Thomas said.

Last year, the food bank served 175 agencies and schools with a record 1.3 million pounds of food, according to the release. Taylor is working toward establishing a mobile food pantry to serve rural areas and expanding her facility’s refrigerator and freezer area, according to the release.

Also during the banquet and preceding reception, United Way honored the board members, donors, volunteers and this year’s recipients of its grants.

American Legion Post 25 earned special mention for the $5,000 it donated for heaters this past winter, helping 14 families.

Incoming board President Thom Moore pointed to problems with income, education and health, his three priority areas, and challenged listeners to reduce problems drastically in his speech.

“Ladies and gentlemen, ultimately our greatest asset is us,” he said. “And together we can make a difference.”