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Neighborhood pantries get creative to help those in need (sponsored)

By ThisIsReno

Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada is making a difference in the lives of those impacted by increased living expenses through its services, programs and partnerships.

Since the beginning of the year, oil and gasoline prices have skyrocketed. Food prices have also gone up—the average cost for conventional whole milk is $4.02 a gallon, and some meat products have increased by more than 12%. Because of this, many people are struggling to make ends meet and need help.

As part of one of the nation’s largest social services networks, Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada is dedicated to meeting the needs of people in Reno, Sparks and the region’s rural communities. 

Here’s what Catholic Charities is doing to help individuals and families with the region’s increased living costs:

Meeting People Where They Are

Over the summer of 2021, Catholic Charities served 6,000–7,000 households every month. However, more than 11,000 thousand households and families desperately need help as the cost of daily essentials rise. And since 2019, the number of unduplicated clients served each year has more than doubled from 44,000 to 95,811 in 2021.

With this critical factor in mind, Catholic Charities’ new mobile food pantries have begun traveling to meet clients’ needs—from Northern Nevada’s most western to eastern borders—supplying food and necessities to outlying food pantries and senior centers. “With more individuals, families, and households seeking support from our programs and services, we needed to get creative in our thinking,” said Marie Baxter, CEO of Catholic Charities. “Many of our clients are working-class people, and they’re struggling to afford groceries and rent.” 

The mobile food pantry can carry up to three pallets of food, which should reduce grocery store trips for clients and save them money on gas. The other mobile unit is primarily stocked with essential items such as hygiene products and other basics for daily living. This four-wheeled effort allows Catholic Charities to provide clients with services where services are not as easily accessible. Not only do the vans come with office space for staff and caseworkers to sign clients up for benefits, but a traveling nurse can provide clients with immunizations upon rolling into town. 

Clients can sign up for the supplemental food bag program through St. Vincent’s Food Pantry, which provides a substantial amount of food to individuals and families once a month based on family size. Catholic Charities can also help clients enroll in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/Food Stamps). 

Neighborhood Pantries Join Together 

With help from neighborhood food pantries across Northern Nevada, St. Vincent’s Food Pantry distributes more than 6 million pounds of food to 16 of Nevada’s 17 counties every month. 

Neighborhood food pantries such as those at O’Brien Middle School in Northwest Reno, Sparks High School in Sparks, and Wooster High School in central Reno help with outreach efforts and play a significant role in helping Northern Nevada families put food on the table. 

St. Vincent’s Food Pantry has two primary locations in Northern Nevada, including one in Sun Valley and one on East Fourth Street. The Sun Valley location is open twice weekly on Tuesdays and Fridays from 1–4 p.m., and the main campus is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to noon and 1–4 p.m.  

Bus Passes To Help With Transportation

Travel and transportation expenses are also top of mind for people. Since January 2022, Catholic Charities’ clients have been carpooling, walking, and biking more. They’ve also been requesting bus passes and taxi fares to reduce their gas expenses. 

To help them, Catholic Charities has started offering 24-hour bus passes for those traveling to doctors’ appointments, job interviews, and food pickups. St. Vincent’s Resource Hub is also providing five-day bus passes for clients during their first week of employment to ensure transportation to and from a new job.

Because Catholic Charities is a non-profit organization, many donors and organizations have helped make this possible. 

The mobile food pantry units were paid for, in part, by an Aging and Disability Services Division CARES Act grant and the Division of Public and Behavioral Health Bureau, and a Bureau of Behavioral Health Wellness and Prevention grant allocated to community behavioral health services. Catholic Charities also received a generous donation from Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, which helped provide RTC bus passes and an informational postcard to clients about services in the community. 

Catholic Charities helps provide people from all walks of life with tools to live a successful and independent life. If you’re searching for ways to help support the community, click here or call 775-322-7073, ext 220. For more information and to get involved, visit ccsnn.org.

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