Get Vaccinated Report Abuse/Neglect Sign up for E-news! Reproductive Health 988: 24/7 LIfeline
Home News Statewide winners announced for New Mexico Grown Program
David Morgan
575-528-5197 Office
575-649-0754 Mobile

Statewide winners announced for New Mexico Grown Program

SANTA FE – The New Mexico Grown Coalition, a network of state agencies, non-profit organizations and community-based groups, is pleased to announce the winners of the 2023 Golden Chile Awards. This year marks a significant milestone as the program has recognized the largest number of recipients since its inception three years ago. The list of honorees includes 10 senior centers, 17 school districts, and 18 preschools, along with 21 food producers who supply fresh produce, products, and meat to preschools, schools, and senior centers.

The Golden Chile Awards celebrate and commend statewide efforts aimed at promoting good nutrition and supporting New Mexico’s farming economy.

Representatives from the Office of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham as well as the Departments of Aging and Long-Term Services, Agriculture, Early Childhood Education & Care, Health, and Public Education, will honor the 66 statewide winners in a virtual ceremony Wednesday, September 13, at 2 p.m. 

“Congratulations to all New Mexico Grown participants for their dedication to New Mexico’s local food movement. We celebrate your success and commitment to supporting local growers and the health of your communities,” said Kendal Chavez, Food and Hunger Advisor in the Office of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

The Golden Chile Award Program comprises four recognition tiers – Seed, Sprout, Blossom, and Golden Chile – designed to acknowledge varying levels of involvement in New Mexico's local food movement.

To earn a Golden Chile, applicants are required to establish edible gardens, serve locally grown food, provide gardening lessons and nutrition education, offer culturally appropriate nutrition and gardening instruction, and engage staff, families, and communities in New Mexico Grown programming.

This year, seven organizations achieved the highest distinction of the Golden Chile award for their comprehensive local-food initiatives. These organizations include the Lower Valley and Blanco Senior Centers, as well as school districts in Elida, Farmington, Roswell, and Santa Fe. Among the two preschools earning the Golden Chile award are A Gold Star Academy in Farmington and Future Generations in Clovis, both of which actively participate in the Department of Health's Farm to Preschool pilot project, promoting locally grown meals, edible gardens, and nutrition education and activities.

“It’s exciting to see children across the state appreciate every aspect of New Mexico Grown food – from planting seeds in their school garden to eating fresh produce in their school meals,” said New Mexico Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Patrick Allen. “We applaud all of the New Mexico Grown participants for increasing access to healthy food and nutrition education.” 

The DOH’s Healthy Kids Healthy Communities Program partners with the Early Childhood Education & Care Department (ECECD) to support preschools in providing more locally grown food, garden and nutrition education and physical activity to their students. More than half of the preschools achieved advanced awards this year.

“Teaching children early about growing and preparing fresh, nutritious foods has lifelong health benefits,” said ECECD Secretary Elizabeth Groginsky. “These programs are a golden opportunity to develop children’s appreciation for healthy foods, learn about nutrition, and deepen their connection to the land and life cycles that sustain them. ECECD congratulates the early childhood programs who have earned recognition for their pioneering work in the New Mexico Grown program.”

The New Mexico Grown program awarded its highest amount this year, a total of $3.47 million: $2 million for schools, $300,000 for preschools, and $1.17 million for senior centers.

School districts, which serve thousands of students locally grown food each year, will receive more than half of the funds to continue providing healthy eating activities and education, working with students to cultivate edible school gardens, and serving locally grown food in cafeteria meals.

“We are thrilled to see so many of our districts recognized in these awards. These honorees serve as role models for all schools and districts in the state on the important connection between our food and how it is grown and the health of our communities,” said Public Education Department Secretary, Arsenio Romero.

The Aging and Long-Term Services Department’s (ALTSD) allocation will help senior centers, including tribal and pueblo senior centers, buy and serve New Mexico Grown food in senior meals as well as fund mini grants and community meals.

“The NM Grown Program allowed locally grown produce and meats to be served at senior centers across the state,” said ALTSD Secretary Designate Jen Paul Schroer. “This enhances the quality and nutritional value of the meals provided to older adults. This year we have a total of 75 senior centers, plus an additional 21 tribes, pueblos and nations participating in the program.”

The New Mexico Grown Program ensures that farms and gardens supplying fresh produce for school and senior meals follow current food safety practices, and all food is safe and traceable. The food producers who applied for the Awards Program will receive an award based on such criteria as community education, food sales to local institutions, water and soil conservation practices, and sustainable and organic farming practices.

“It’s always a win-win when local agricultural products go straight to New Mexicans, as it helps the livelihood of our hard-working farmers and ranchers, while consumers enjoy healthy, safe, fresh food,” said New Mexico Agriculture Secretary Jeff Witte.

The 2023 Golden Chile Award winners being honored in the following categories this year are: 

Golden Chile (mature and fruitful program): 

  • A Gold Star Academy & Child Development Center in Farmington
  • Future Generations in Clovis
  • Elida Municipal Schools
  • Farmington Municipal Schools
  • Roswell Independent School District
  • Santa Fe School District
  • Lower Valley and Blanco senior centers 

Blossom (program is reaching maturity): 

  • Bumble Bee Learning Center in Sunland Park
  • Christina Kent Early Childhood Center in Albuquerque 
  • Christine Duncan Heritage Academy in Albuquerque
  • Family Resource Center in Deming
  • Mid-West NMCAP Head Start/Early Head Start in Socorro
  • My Kiddos Too in Roswell
  • Serendipity Day School in Albuquerque
  • Western Heights Learning Center in Albuquerque
  • Zuni Pueblo Head Start
  • Albuquerque Public Schools
  • Dexter Consolidated Schools
  • Las Cruces Public Schools
  • Silver Consolidated Schools in Silver City
  • Las Vegas Senior Center programs
  • Rio Arriba County Senior Program 
  • Sandoval County Senior Services 
  • Zuni Pueblo Senior Center 

Sprout (program is growing strong):

  • Creative Kids Childcare Center in Española
  • Isleta Head Start, Early Head Start & Child Care Center
  • Kingdom Builders Preschool and Daycare in Albuquerque
  • NMSU Head Start 
  • NMSU School for Young Children
  • Ramah Navajo Head Start
  • Bloomfield Schools
  • Clovis Municipal Schools
  • Cuba Independent Schools
  • Taos Municipal Schools
  • West Las Vegas Schools
  • Adelante Senior Meals in Albuquerque
  • Albuquerque Department of Senior Affairs
  • Catron County Senior Services (Presbyterian Medical Services)
  • Deming Luna County Commission on Aging
  • Santo Domingo Pueblo Senior Center 

Seed (program has potential):

  • New Mexico Children First in Sunland Park
  • Isleta Elementary School in Albuquerque
  • Ch’ooshgai Community School in Tohatchi
  • Fort Sumner Municipal Schools
  • Hobbs Municipal Schools 

Food producer awardees (a new award category to make its debut with this year’s awards ceremony): 

  • Anthony Youth Farm in Anthony
  • Bidii Baby Foods in Gallup
  • Chispas Farm in Albuquerque
  • Desert Verde Farm in Santa Fe
  • Elder’s Greenhouse & Garden in Aztec
  • Frontier Food Hub in Silver City
  • Graves Farm & Garden in Roswell
  • Hacienda Dominguez & Chelenzo Farms in Cerrillos
  • Institute of American Indian Arts Land-Grants Program in Santa Fe
  • Montoya Orchard in Española
  • Navajo Agricultural Products Industry (NAPI) in Farmington
  • New Mexico Beef in Anton Chico
  • New Mexico Harvest in Albuquerque
  • Nichols Ranch & Orchards in La Luz
  • North Valley Organics in Albuquerque
  • RJ’s Legacy in Shiprock
  • San Juan College Harvest Food Hub in Farmington
  • Santa Fe Community College Greenhouse
  • Silver Leaf Farms in Corrales
  • The Veggie Shack in Portales
  • Twin Rivers Farm in Roswell 

Media Contact

We would be happy to provide additional information about this press release. Simply contact David Morgan at 575-528-5197 (Office) or 575-649-0754 (Mobile) with your questions.

Versión en Español

En un esfuerzo para hacer que nuestros comunicados de prensa sean más accesibles, también tenemos disponibles una versión en español. Por favor presione el enlace de abajo para acceder a la traducción.

Se anuncian los ganadores estatales del Programa Cultivado en Nuevo México