People wait outside St. Vincent’s Food Pantry in downtown Reno.

Hunger in Northern Nevada

One quarter of all children in Northern Nevada are hungry, according to the Food Bank of Northern Nevada (FBNN). One in seven Nevadans face hunger every day. Chances are, people you know or work with are hungry.

One of the biggest problems with hunger and poverty in Northern Nevada and all of America is that we do not see the problem, so we ignore it. The homeless and hungry are out of sight, out of mind; right? We do not see it so we do not care. But often times we cannot see it, because we simply choose not to look.

Hunger is easy to hide. The FBNN reports that 89% of their clients are not homeless. The reason for this is pretty simple, they do not have enough money to pay for everything so they pay for the things that others would notice if they went without. Approximately 69 percent choose between food and utilities, 63 percent between food and transportation, 58 percent between food and housing, and another 63 percent between food and medical care.

No one wants to be without a home, so they pay the rent. But in a Northern Nevada winter, people need heat. So they pay the utility. And if they sell the nice car and take the bus, people will talk. So they make the car payment. And of course they have to pay for a hospital visit or two when flu season hits.

For people who have never had to choose between utilities, a car, a home, healthcare, and food, it is very hard to understand those who do it every week. Food is the easiest of the above to get from charitable sources, which is why so many of FBNN’s clients are not homeless. If they had to pay for groceries, they have to cross one of the above resources off the list.

Food banks and soup kitchens help so no one has to make that choice. I had a teacher who was fond of saying to “live simply so that others may simply live.” That’s what food pantries and soup kitchens are all about. My parents never had to choose which bill they would pay, but they easily could have. There are probably people I know that make that choice, I just do not know about it.

I do not know what I would do. It is a terrible position to be in and I would not wish it on anyone. Hopefully I never have to. But there are people who do. So the question for me and all of you is how can we help.

There are plenty of options. The Food Bank of Northern Nevada, St. Vincent’s, and the Reno/Sparks Gospel Mission are a few. So whether it is donating food, time, or money, give what you can. Because if you ever have to choose between food, housing, utilities, healthcare, and transportation, you want the food pantries to be full.

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