Gabriel Anaya was born and raised in Moriarty, New Mexico. In high school, Anaya worked at a family restaurant on the famous US Route 66 and developed a love for cooking from the simplicity of recipes. An early alumni of New Mexico College of Agriculture & Mechanics Arts, Anaya attended the Las Cruces land-grant college during its name change to New Mexico State University. A member of NMSU’s Reserves Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC), Anaya went on to serve for thirty years before retiring from the United States Army as Colonel.
After a two year commission at Fort Benning, Georgia, Anaya returned to New Mexico and applied to become a math teacher at Silver City High School. With a masters degree from Western New Mexico University, and introduced to John Paul Taylor at a National Education Association (NEA) meeting, Anaya was again hired to teach mathematics at Las Cruces High School where he spent more than twenty-five years alongside continued active and reserves U.S. Army service.
Following retirement, Anaya volunteered at El Caldito Soup Kitchen and helped increase options to include Saturday “Sack-lunch” and a “Sunday meal.” Responsible for additional weekend meals, and more active volunteer help, El Caldito now offered daily food service delivery on the Hope Campus. With volunteer “Working Board” membership supported across the Las Cruces community, Anaya became El Caldito’s volunteer executive director in charge of the local Food Rescue Program, including scheduled “Gleaning” of donation foods from contributing supermarkets, bakeries, and hospitals.
With El Caldito’s Empty Bowls fundraiser, sponsored by the Potters’ Guild of Las Cruces and Saint Paul’s United Methodist Church, Anaya helps to continue a cherished local tradition. With ticket purchase, patrons may select “from over twelve-hundred” hand-made pottery bowls, choose from a variety of specially made hot soups created and served by local restaurants, and together share a thoughtful meal as a community committed to ending hunger in New Mexico.
In 2020, Anaya’s role as El Caldito’s volunteer executive director changed due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The 27th annual Empty Bowls became a “Soup-less event” with an online auction of Potters’ Guild of Las Cruces bowls and artwork available.