“It brings you back to Earth,” Martini said of the event.
Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada (CCNN), which operates the food pantry, has seen demand for services skyrocket in recent years as the economic recession set in.
In that time, the stereotypical image of people in need has been eviscerated.
Sure, CCNN supports the homeless, single mothers and the perpetually downtrodden. But officials also see middle-class families, veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, retirees and one-time donors now looking for assistance, evidence that the toll of the recession extends far and wide across the fabric of American society.
With demand ratcheted up, CCNN is thankful to see donations coming in at a larger clip.
For example, the food pantry collected and distributed about 2.6 million pounds of food this year compared with just 1.1 million pounds two years ago.
Moreover, the food pantry is now serving about 28,000 people each month.
The increase in donations benefits people like Anna Liza, a Reno resident and mother of three young children.
“This is a lot of help,” she said as she scooped up a few bags full of food and headed to her car.
Of course, some people in need might feel embarrassed or too shy to ask for help.
“I’m not ashamed,” Liza said. “There’s no reason to be ashamed.”
That message resonates with Scott Cooksley, manager of the food pantry. He never likes to turn away a single person.
But for Cooksley and his staff to deliver on their promises, they need support from the Truckee Meadows community.
Canned food donations are always welcome but cash is preferable, and there’s a good reason why.
Through partnerships with the Food Bank of Northern Nevada and other organizations, Cooksley is able to buy food at lower cost – something approaching wholesale prices.
“I do have better purchasing power,” he said.
For example, Cooksley can buy three cases of peanut butter from his providers for the sale price of one at the local grocery store or supermarket.
So if you’re looking to donate to the food pantry this holiday season, you’ll get more bang for your buck if you keep the canned foods for yourself and cut St. Vincent’s a check instead.