Food Bank Faces Big Demand for Christmas - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Area Food Bank Faces Big Demand for Christmas

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We visit the Food Bank of Northern Nevada warehouse every year at about this time. We arrive with high hopes that we're going to see crates and cartons of food reaching to the ceiling. But like the holes in our economy, there are now too many empty spaces on the shelves. As their marketing manager Jocelyn Lantrip told me, "As soon as we get food in, it goes out."

For the food bank, this is rush hour...when more folks turn to them for help. They know families who are barely keeping their lights on who really do worry about having enough food. While the economy may be improving, the hunger situation is going the other way. Lantrip said, "We know that a lot of our clients are back to work, but they still can't make ends meet."

At a time of year celebrated with a ritual meal, more Nevadans than ever are lining up to get food donations...after losing some food-stamp benefits. Last month, the largest cuts in the history of the food stamp program went into effect when the 2009 stimulus package expired. The average family lost $39 a month. Do the math and it means that a family of four has two options: eat 21 fewer meals a month, or pay less than $1.40 per person a meal.

The reductions hit almost one in seven here: 13% of Nevadans are on food stamps. Who's hurt the most? Seniors, children, the disabled and veterans…they're the ones most reliant on the SNAP program.

Charities that get their food from the food bank just can't fill the gap. Yes, the unemployment rate is dropping, but Lantrip told us that's deceiving: "They're making less money, they're working part-time, their expenses are up, food prices are going up."

It has reached a point where simple food is a gift that many would love to have this year. Lantrip knows of "a senior going into a pantry who admitted she's only eating crackers and water. We have little kids that are so happy when they get their backpacks of food for the weekend."

These simple items of food are going to those who need it most. To give folks a special Christmas meal, the food bank doesn't have a whole lot of time…with the holiday right around the corner. Lantrip told us, "We have people cry all the time when they receive food. Sometimes they're just so happy that they're receiving the help."

-written by John Potter

To help the needy and keep the food bank's supply adequate, join us for our 21st annual "Share Your Christmas" Drive-By Food Drive. From 6:00am to 6:00pm Friday, we'll be set up at the Grand Sierra Resort, the Governor's Mansion in Carson City and the Carson Valley Inn in Minden. Last year at those locations, we helped collect nearly 200,000 pounds of food and $200,000 for local food banks. We hope to see you on Friday!

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