As the farmers market stands throughout our region overflow with a bounty of fresh, locally-grown food, we want to take a moment to highlight those who help nourish the Northern Nevada community. From a local grocery store fighting food insecurity to family-owned companies providing fresh seafood and bread to our food pantry, these acts of kindness make the world a better place.
We are proud to partner with many local businesses and organizations like this at Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada. Together, we’re striving to help people—from all walks of life—rise out of poverty and overcome the barriers to self-sufficiency.
Inflation and supply chain issues have caused more people to rely on food pantries to feed their families. This, in turn, has made people more reliant on food banks and nonprofit providers across the country to meet the growing need.
“With essential food items significantly more expensive due to inflation, we couldn’t provide fresh protein and produce without support,” said Carlos Carrillo, director for the St. Vincent’s Food Pantry. He works on the front lines with local food donors and vendors to address hunger in communities across the greater Northern Nevada region.
“Our local food donors and vendors enable us to provide fresh food to clients and community members without storing it in our warehouse for extended periods.”
If every person we served in the first quarter of 2022—about 100,000 people—received a gallon of whole milk at the current average price of $4.05, we would have distributed almost half a million dollars in donated or discounted milk.
St. Vincent’s Food Pantry receives a variety of products—including whole milk—from the Grocery Outlet located on Kietzke Lane. As the owners of the independently operated store, Brian Vieira and his wife, Tammy, are dedicated to making a difference in the community.
“As independent owners, we get to choose who we want to partner with in the community,” Brian said about their commitment to giving back and why they decided to partner with our nonprofit social-service organization. “Catholic Charities aligns with the values and morals we wish our store to represent.”
In July, Grocery Outlets nationwide will conduct a national, annual Independence From Hunger (IFH) campaign that offers shoppers $5 off a future purchase of $25 or more for donating $5 or more in a single transaction in-store or online. Every Grocery Outlet location in the country selects a local beneficiary agency. In Reno, all proceeds will go towards Catholic Charities and its programs, Brian said.
“Whether you choose to donate a bag of groceries or cash at checkout, you will be helping those facing food insecurity in our community,” Brian said.
Accessing food is a daily struggle for many Catholic Charities’ clients. Food deserts affect nearly a quarter of Nevada’s population. In Northern Nevada, there are food deserts in large parts of the North Valleys, Pyramid Lake, small areas within Reno, and Elko and Humboldt counties. While many factors create food deserts, limited proximity to larger grocery stores and supermarkets is one of the most prominent.
With help from our neighborhood food pantries, donors, and vendors, we aim to provide another option for residents in these remote areas. On average, Catholic Charities distributes more than 6 million pounds of food to 16 of Nevada’s 17 counties at no cost, and our committed partners are central to that effort.
From sliced bread to hot dog buns to dinner rolls, Franco Baking Company, a family-owned bakery, ensures that bread is always on the table.
Grocery stores often have to throw away food because it’s getting close to the sell-by date, even though it’s still good, said Tim Gant, President of Franco Baking Company. So, instead, Franco donates it to those in need. The Franco team will also collect leftover bread from Northern Nevada special events, such as Reno Aces baseball games, to donate to our food pantry.
While the expression of breaking bread can be a literal act of sharing bread with someone, Franco Baking Company shows us that it can also be a powerful metaphor for building connections between friends, family members, and strangers.
“More people in need are ending up on the street,” Gant said. “I don’t know what they’d do without the food pantry.”
Another local vendor working for the greater good is Sierra Gold Seafood. This family-owned company is committed to serving our community with the highest-quality ingredients.
“We have access to fresh seafood and a wide variety of products,” said Brandon Crowell, Vice President of Operations. “We’re happy to help wherever and whenever we can.”
Sierra Gold Seafood provides our food pantry and dining room with salmon, tuna, shrimp, and tilapia. We also receive chicken tenders and deli meat through their partnership with the National Food Group, an innovative food service solution.
“The pandemic completely threw off the equilibrium of supply and demand,” Crowell said. “At Sierra Gold Seafood, we try to help Catholic Charities by finding the best deals possible.”
Our food pantry donors and vendors have also had to adapt their products and services to the impacts of the pandemic, higher costs of living, and supply chain disruptions. Still, they continue to provide nutritious food to our community.
“There’s no reason to waste food if it’s still good and edible, especially with how the world is right now,” Gant said. “Food insecurity has become a serious problem.”
While food donations to St. Vincent’s Food Pantry and St. Vincent’s Dining Room help us provide nourishment to the community, there are also many other ways to show your support. Catholic Charities focuses on four key areas, including food services, case management services, family services, and residential services. They also operate two thrift stores and provide entry-level and second chance employment opportunities to those struggling to find work.