As COVID-19 restrictions continue to ravage the food and beverage industry, Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada has redoubled its efforts to purchase food from local farmers, ranchers and food distributors hardest hit by the pandemic for its St. Vincent’s Food Pantry.
In July, Catholic Charities received a CARES Act Grant to purchase locally grown food to supplement and expand its food distribution programs in the Reno/Sparks area and the rural, frontier and tribal communities as well.
“Since July, the Director of our Food Pantry has been reaching out to local farmers, ranchers and other food producers to source foods for our pantry,” said Marie Baxter, CEO, Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada. “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.”
Keeping it Local: Producers and Distributors
Some of these relationships include purchasing large quantities of honey from a local bee keeper, supporting local dairy farmers, purchasing organic pork from a rancher who previously relied on specialty restaurants, and even purchasing fresh fish from a food distributor who operates a small business in Reno.
Through the CFR/CARES act grant, Catholic Charities has developed partnerships with more than 15 local businesses that provide locally grown and sourced foods — many of whom would have been unable to distribute their products due to the pandemic.
In October, 26 pantries in seven counties of northern Nevada supplied 6,000 households or 25,000 people with nutrient-rich, locally grown and produced food items. Each household received approximately 45 to 65 pounds of food.
In the past, food boxes consisted of approximately 80 percent shelf-stable items. With grants such as the CFR, St. Vincent’s Food Pantry has been able to drop that to 15 percent. In addition to their staples, clients receive a variety of fresh items including cheese, eggs, tortillas, breads, milk, butter, 3-4 produce items such as vegetables and fruits and can select from a variety of meats.
Food items not used in weekly food boxes are flash frozen by Catholic Charities to keep their nutritional value and used at the St. Vincent’s Dining Room to support the growing number of meals prepared each day.
For more information about Catholic Charities, please visit the website.