Tough economy prompts Reno food giveaway

Hundreds line up for distribution of “budget stretcher.”

by Carole Miller –

Social Services Supervisor Nancy Hart asks recipients to sign in before collecting food.

“My wife didn’t want me to come here today,” said Scott (not his real name). “She said we’re taking food from the poor people. I told her ‘we ARE the poor people right now.’” Scott is a granite installer, who normally makes a good living. However, the tight economy has dried up the home remodeling work in the Reno area.

Scott was among hundreds of people who lined up for The Salvation Army’s recent “Budget Stretcher” food giveaway. The event was organized to provide a little relief for low-income individuals and families facing rocketing food and gasoline prices. Times are tough—especially when incomes are NOT going up.

“We’re all feeling the pinch when we buy groceries, but the high food prices can mean going without for those on a fixed income,” said Major Doug Williams, Reno corps officer. “We had over 23,000 pounds of donated food in the warehouse and we wanted to get it into the hands of those in need. People were so grateful—it was heartwarming.”

The economic squeeze is reflected in the demand for social service assistance, which has more than doubled at the Reno corps since February. Social Services Supervisor Nancy Hart is also seeing a change in client profile. She reports an increasing number of clients—like “Scott”—who haven’t had to ask for help in the past.

Salvation Army staff, Boy Scout Troop 152 and ARP beneficiaries distributed nearly 500 large milk crates of food during the four-hour event. Each crate contained several cans of beans and other vegetables, canned fruit, packages of spaghetti noodles and rice, and jars of peanut butter. Students from Excel Christian School volunteered earlier in the week to help pack the food. The few crates left after the event went to social services.

The Salvation Army distributes food to the less fortunate throughout the year and especially during the holidays, when thousands apply for Christmas assistance. The Reno corps provided holiday food for more than 9,000 people last December.

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