HARVEST FOR GOOD
St. Vincent’s distributes local fish and produce to the needy.
WRITTEN BY HEIDI BETHEL
PHOTOS BY CHRIS HOLLOMAN
On a typical day at St. Vincent’s Dining Room, you’ll find its director Ray Trevino working with a team to prepare a balanced lunch for more than 550 hungry patrons, many of whom are considered homeless. When someone steps up to the lunch counter, that person is served a meal, no questions asked.
Through several human-services initiatives, including the St. Vincent’s Dining Room and Food Pantry programs, Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada assists the poor and underserved in the community. While the organization has a seamless process for feeding the area’s hungry, getting the nutritious ingredients to prepare the meals sometimes can be a bit tricky.
“We are donation based,” explains Scott Cooksley, division director of food services at Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada. “We have a lot of great people who give us food for the dining room and also for our food pantry. This kind generosity is what keeps us able to serve so many.”
Produce and pride
A few local establishments provide fresh vegetables, fruits, and proteins. Perhaps one of Catholic Charities’ biggest supporters is the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension. This statewide college is focused on research and sustainability in Nevada. Its experts often bring bounty from their various gardens to St. Vincent’s. The university’s biology department also supports the pantry with fresh fish collected by the Aquatic Ecosystems Analysis Laboratory.
“One of the more frequent things we receive from [the Cooperative Extension] is its kale. The great thing is [the students and volunteers] harvest it from the ground in the morning, and we use it in the afternoon to serve the dietary needs of the folks in this area,” Cooksley says. “It doesn’t get any better than that!”
St. Vincent’s Food Pantry also uses many of the Nevada- and Tahoe-grown food donations to provide staples and raw ingredients to more than 5,600 households each month.
“It warms your heart to see a family with small children get excited to have apples to take home,” Cooksley says. “When you see the child ask mom or dad if they can have those healthy items that night for dinner, it really means something.”
Heidi Bethel has spent much time volunteering at local nonprofit organizations serving the area’s needy. Even just a little goes an incredibly long way when it comes to these organizations, and she encourages the community to do what they can to help.
To make a donation to the St. Vincent’s programs, call 775-322-7073 or visit the food pantry located at 500 E. Fourth St. in Reno.