Ruby K’s Yum Runs beats the pavement to keep food stocked on shelves

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By Kirsten Laskey

A lot of images are associated with Ruby K’s Yum Runs. Young children bolting down Central Avenue during the children’s 1K run, older runners stretching and warming up for the 5K and 10K runs, local business providing support through refreshments and T-shirts.

It’s an event that brings multiple generations together in the early morning hours. And while fun times are definitely strong components of the event, this event comes with a significant purpose.

The run is the major fundraiser for LA Cares. For the past five years, it has raised approximately $3,000-$4,000 for the nonprofit organization. The money goes toward two operations that LA Cares performs. The first one is serving as a food bank to eligible Los Alamos residents and the second service is offering financial help to individuals who are struggling to make rent or pay utilities.

This is service is not held hard and fast to just once a year. Action is taken on a merit-based system.

A food box distribution occurs from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. the second Friday of every month at Bethlehem Lutheran Church. Boxes of food are packed up the day before so people can either pick them up or have them delivered, if there is a need.

People need to call in ahead of time to reserve a box. They can also make special requests such as if they have food allergies or need pet food.

The size of the box each recipient receives depends on the size of their family.

Besides the food boxes, participants can “shop” for other things not included in the box such as cake mixes, juices and cereals.

A lot of food goes through this distribution, LA Cares Board Member Linda Burns said. It involves more than 100 cans of soup, cases of canned vegetables like peas, 100 pounds of spaghetti.

On average, two tons of food are distributed monthly.

“That’s a lot of food,” she said. “We are moving an awful lot of food … and this community has given very generously.”

One of the avenues the community supports LA Cares is through the two annual Letter Carriers food drives.

One is held right before Mother’s Day and the second is held right before Thanksgiving.

“They are absolutely vital to us,” Burns said.

About five tons of food is collected during these food drives. Donations come from other various entities in the community such as the Jewish Center, which will donate food during its fasting holidays. Curves for Women also donates food to LA Cares.

The community’s generosity is embraced by LA Cares, particularly since the need for its services is so high.

Burns said, “We started with 12 clients. We are now close to running at 100.”

She identifies the word spreading about LA Cares and the current state of the economy as contributing factors for the rise in demand for the organization’s services.

“We have people who never dreamed they would be coming to a food bank,” Burns said.

The Yum Runs are important because they allow for these needed services to continue.

“It’s our only fundraiser,” Burns said.

Aaron Goldman, race director, pointed out that LA Cares purchases food at a food depot in Santa Fe.

The price is pretty inexpensive but sometimes the depot doesn’t have a certain food item in stock. Likewise, he said, the food drives don’t always cover all of the items that LA Cares needs.

“So we need money from these fundraisers so we can purchase the food that we need,” he said.

Besides raising the necessary money for its operations, the Yum Runs also keep people aware of LA Cares.

Burns noted, “When we first started, one of our major problems was education.”

LA Cares was originally called Homeless Services which was mistranslated to mean clients had to be homeless.

Ruby Alexander, co-owner of Ruby K’s, initiated the Yum Run, Burns said. This year, the Moms in Motion have joined to expand the run with a 10 K run.

The event will begin with a traditional 5K run and the new 10 K at 8 a.m. at Ruby K’s. The children’s 1 K run will be held at 9:30 a.m. near the Post Office.  Registration and packets are available from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and 4-6 p.m. Friday at Ruby K’s as well as before 7:45 a.m. the day of the race.

Besides Ruby K’s, other supporters include MainStreet, NSTEC, Los Alamos National Bank and Neptune.

Burns encourages the community to come and help support LA Cares. “Obviously the need is there,” she said.