Several times in my life I have had to sustain myself on little food. After my parents separated when I was 10 and throughout my teens, our family of three was fairly destitute. We had a home and thrift store clothes, but not a lot more than that. Even though my mom worked long hours, we didn’t have much money for food. My brother and I would search the cupboards for anything we could find. I remember feeling frustrated because I was young, growing, and hungry for more than canned soup. During and after college, my bank account and stomach often verged on being empty. Those days were about Top Ramen noodles for every meal. While I wasn’t starving, those weren’t easy times when it came to food.
Today, I am grateful that food is much more abundant in my life. It’s perhaps a bit too bountiful. As I frequently say, the only downside to owning a food-and-drink magazine is my expanding waistline.
With the holidays upon us — so often a season of sharing extravagant meals with family members and friends — it’s a perfect time to reflect upon (and help) those who may be struggling to make ends meet.
Here in Reno-Tahoe, the economy is strong, the unemployment rate is low, new businesses are opening their doors, existing businesses are expanding, and home values are high. But times aren’t good for everyone. Rising rents and expenses are creating additional barriers for the food insecure. Some community members here are struggling to nourish their bellies, as well as those of their families. They don’t have enough food to survive and thrive.
In our cover story, writer Natasha Bourlin reports that every month, Food Bank of Northern Nevada employees and volunteers feed 92,000 people living within FBNN’s 90,000-square-mile service area. Half of those fed are children and seniors. Recipients continually have to choose between food and medical care, food and rent, or feeding children while parents go hungry.
In another story, writer Annie Flanzraich reports that food pantry use at Reno-Tahoe colleges is skyrocketing. In yet another story, we dig into Washoe County’s school lunch program to understand how many of our young students are in need of decent meals.
But take heart; it’s not all doom and gloom. We have exceptional resources to help the hungry, including food banks, as well as St. Vincent’s Dining Room and The Salvation Army. Even our local bakers donate bread to the pantries, including the owners of House of Bread in Reno, who deliver to St. Vincent’s almost daily.
So, in this season of plenty, please consider donating time, money, or food to a local pantry or another service that helps the hungry.
About the Cover Our hand model is Norma Acker, who is a part of the Washoe County Senior Ambassador Program and volunteers her time as a Meals on Wheels driver. She also volunteers at the Food Bank of Northern Nevada. She is holding a loaf of whole wheat bread from House of Bread in Reno. Photo by Jeff Ross