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Neighborhood Pantries Get Creative To Help Those In Need

Clients visit their neighborhood pantry
Neighborhood Pantries Get Creative To Help Those In Need
As living expenses increase, Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada is enhancing services and support
“With more individuals, families, and households struggling to afford groceries and rent, we needed to get creative in our thinking."
Marie Baxter, CEO of Catholic Charities

The need is great

Since the beginning of the year, oil and gasoline prices have skyrocketed. Food prices have risen as well—the average cost of conventional whole milk is $4.02 a gallon, and some meat products have increased by more than 12%.  As the prices of essential items such as food and gas rise, 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 making a difference by meeting the needs of residents in Reno, Sparks, and the region’s rural communities.

Creative solutions 

With more individuals, families, and households seeking support from our programs and services, we needed to get creative in our thinking. Many of our clients are working-class people, and they’re struggling to afford groceries and rent.

During the summer of 2021, Catholic Charities served 6,000–7,000 households every month. However, more than 11,000 households and families desperately need assistance due to the region’s increased living costs. 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 in mind, our 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.

The mobile food pantry can carry up to three pallets of food, which should reduce grocery store trips for individuals in these communities and save them money on gas. The other mobile unit is primarily stocked with hygiene products and other basics for daily living.

This four-wheeled effort allows us to meet clients where they are and provide them with services that are not as easily accessible. Our vans come with office space for staff and caseworkers to help clients sign up for benefits. We also have a traveling nurse on our team who provides clients with convenient access to immunizations.

Clients can sign up for our supplemental food bag program, which provides a substantial amount of food to families once a month based on family size. We can also help them enroll in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP/Food Stamps).

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 play a significant role in our outreach efforts to ensure that neighbors who need food can get help.

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 avoid gas stations.

To help them, Catholic Charities offers 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.

Supporters make our work possible

As a nonprofit organization, we’re incredibly grateful for our volunteers and staff members, and the funds and grants that make these efforts possible. 

At Catholic Charities, one of our goals is to provide people from all walks of life with the tools they need to live a successful and independent life. So, if you’re unsure what to do next time a neighbor asks for help, please send them our way.

For more information about the neighborhood pantries nearest you, hours of operation, and requirements, click here or visit our website. To help support the community, click here or call 775-322-7073, ext 220. For more information and to get involved, visit

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