I just couldn’t help adding this November 2013 Wired Magazine article here, and how it’s new teaching methods may be adopted within our community here in Rio Arriba — how a poor 12 year old girl, who lives next to a garbage dump in a border town of Mexico, suddenly got the best Math grades in the entire country — and the majority of her class scored in the 99.99%. I love stories like this!! –Barry Ira Geller, Administrator

The Class which scored at the 99.99% of Mexico, Paloma standing
The Class which scored at the 99.99% of Mexico, Paloma standing.

These students in Matamoros, Mexico, didn’t have reliable Internet access, steady electricity, or much hope—until a radical new teaching method unlocked their potential.

José Urbina López Primary School sits next to a dump just across the US border in Mexico. The school serves residents of Matamoros, a dusty, sunbaked city of 489,000 that is a flash point in the war on drugs. There are regular shoot-outs, and it’s not uncommon for locals to find bodies scattered in the street in the morning. To get to the school, students walk along a white dirt road that parallels a fetid canal. On a recent morning there was a 1940s-era tractor, a decaying boat in a ditch, and a herd of goats nibbling gray strands of grass. A cinder-block barrier separates the school from a wasteland—the far end of which is a mound of trash that grew so big, it was finally closed down. On most days, a rotten smell drifts through the cement-walled classrooms. Some people here call the school un lugar de castigo—“a place of punishment.”

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Espanola Farmers’ Market has partnered with the El Centro clinics for a very effective fruit and vegetables prescription program (FVRx) funded by Wholesome Wave, a foundation based in Connecticut.This grant enables the entire family of children diagnosed with diabetes or obesity to recieve a dollar per day per family member to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables at the participating farmers’ market. For example, a family of seven was issued a weekly prescription for $49 (7 people x 7 days) which they presented to the Market staff for wooden tokens, then used those tokens to buy fruits and vegetables from many farmer/vendors.

Last season, about 20 families participated fully in this program. The Market redeemed $9,330 in purchases, over 90% redemption rate. We had to report the prescriptions weekly, listing the number of wooden tokens issued, the number redeemed and the code number of the prescription. The clinic was also reporting weekly, with coded data related to measurable heath monitoring to evaluate any improvement resulting from four months of eating more freshly grown food. This accumulation of statistics is what makes the Wholesome Wave FVRx program unique and effective. They are accumulating health data to be able to prove what we know intuitively, that eating healthy food improves health.

This could potentially result in more funding throughout the country for preventative care under Obama’s health plans. Espanola Farmers’ Market & El Centro were the only market/clinic partnership to recieve this grant in New Mexico and only one of two rural markets in the country for this program. Most partners were in northeastern low income urban areas.

We have been invited to apply again for this season and have already been collaborating on building a more effective program, including printing bilingual recipe cards for farmers to distribute at their tables and having El Centro health workers at the Monday Market to guide the patients in their vegetable purchases and to provide other health information to our customers.

Sabra Moore, Market Manager

Field trip 004a


After climbing a steep iMovie learning curve, I am finally able to post our video of the outreach in Chimayo! We administered 52 vaccines before running out! In addition, Site Manager Elias Fresquez hosted a car show (with awards), a farmers’ market, education for seniors by the Public Regulatory Commission, among other things. County Commissioners, the Mayor of Espanola, the Sheriff, school board members and other officials mingled with the public. A great time for everyone!

All this and more in our second minimentary of the series: Hospital in Chimayo!

Truchas: Farm Families Get Immunized

On September 7, 2012, in Health Reform, Hospitals, RACHC, by Lauren

On August 31, the Rio Arriba Community Health Council and its member agencies went to the Senior Center in the village of Truchas to conduct joint pain prevention classes, immunizations, diabetes screenings and other preventive services. We met a lot of folks and learned that co-pays, even small ones, are a huge barrier in our small farming towns. The RACHC will be working to find ways to eliminate or reduce co-pays for key services such as immunizations.

In the meantime, this is our story:


For years, Rio Arriba County has been the butt of jokes about its high overdose death rates and its supposed lack of coordination between providers. But on August 25, over 350 people showed up at my office (a huge crowd for a working day in Espanola!) to celebrate our town’s health care reform success.

We were joined by our county commissioners, Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), state legislators, our Secretary of Health, children, reporters, friends, musicians and a truckload of shelter dogs. We danced, listened to northern New Mexico folk music, feasted, heard speeches and adopted pets, all to celebrate an extraordinary local achievement.

And while we were at it, we published op-eds and secured coverage in three newspapers and a radio station explaining the benefits of health care reform. Celebrate with us below the fold.

Cipriano Vigil and Friends Entertained the Crowd

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