The Lord’s prayer, “Give us today our daily bread,” from Matthew 6:11, has been interpreted in various ways. It’s not only a supplication for the nourishment of bread and other food. It also envelops our overall basic needs for good health and well-being—food, shelter, clothing, warmth, and safety.
At Catholic Charities, our mission is to provide bread—spiritual, social, and sustenance—to people of all cultures and beliefs through a broad range of services, including food resources, case management, and residential programs. Our St. Vincent’s Food Pantry is a crucial component in our efforts to help feed our community. As the largest food pantry in Northern Nevada, it serves more than 15,000 people per month. Annually, St. Vincent’s Food Pantry distributes more than 300,000 boxes of food for families in need.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect food supplies worldwide, we must work together to deliver nourishment to our community members while also supporting the producers who make that food possible. With aid from the CARES Act grant, Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada was able to expand its support to local farmers, ranchers, and food distributors and feed the hungry at the same time. Some of these partnerships include purchasing large quantities of honey from local beekeepers and organic meat from ranchers, whose livelihood depends on the food and beverage industry. These efforts, in turn, help our local populations that need this sustenance.
We’ve always had a network of providing food and social services throughout rural Nevada. However, by refocusing to buy as many local products as we can, we have helped sustain families in our community whose businesses have been severely impacted by the pandemic.
In the past, food boxes included about 80% shelf-stable items. The pantry’s staff members and dozens of dedicated volunteers worked hard to change that paradigm. Now, every food box comes with various fresh, locally-sourced food like bread, butter, dairy, eggs, fruits, tortillas, and vegetables.
We also purchased a flash freezer to compensate for the region’s relatively short growing season. The freezer allows us to store fish, meat, and poultry products from local producers and suppliers, including Ponderosa Meat & Provision Co. As for the remaining food items, the resource is a welcome addition as we prepare more than 1,000 meals per day at the St. Vincent’s Dining Room.
Catholic Charities proudly supports 33 pop-up pantries in seven counties from Reno to Baker, including frontier, rural, tribal and urban communities. As a result, we help provide every household in need with 45 to 65 pounds of food. In December 2020 alone, we served more than 10,000 people through these mobile pantries.
Catholic Charities distributes up to 350 food boxes per day, five days a week, from our main campus. First-time visitors need to bring one form of identification to receive assistance, and within minutes, they’ll leave with a food box in their arms.