Healthy Beginnings

Ways to Help Our Local Food Bank Provide Nutritious, Healthy Meals


In Nevada, one in seven people is food insecure – lacking reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.

The Food Bank of Northern Nevada works to provide these people with emergency food services through a network of more than 140 partner agencies in a 90,000 square mile service area throughout Northern Nevada and Eastern California.

You may be familiar with our local
Food Bank’s mission, and you’ve most likely noticed the various food drives throughout the community – at the grocery store, in your bank lobby or even near the front desk of your office. But, you may not be aware of the types of foods tossed into these seemingly abundant branded food drive barrels
– nearly 30 percent of donated food generated by food drives is thrown away due to expired expiration dates and tampered packaging.

“We work to spend time before a food drive to educate people about what we can take, and what we can’t,” Jocelyn Lantrip, director of marketing and communications for the Food Bank of Northern Nevada, said. “When I get that question: ‘What should you donate to a food drive?’

I so often say, ‘What would you like to eat? If you had to pick nonperishable foods, what would you buy?’”

This holiday season, what are you placing on your dining room table? Fresh greens, colorful fruits and savory sides? Would you like to help a local family enjoy the same fresh, nutritious foods? If so, you can.

The Food Bank often battles a long-standing misconception that
the organization only accepts and distributes non-perishable food items to those in need. However, nearly half of the distribution is produce.

“We really spend a lot of energy sourcing produce – it’s about half of what we distribute,” she said.

Access to produce varies, but the organization works to provide a vast and abundant variety of fruits and vegetables including kale, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes, onions, apples and more. However, it’s not always an easy task.

“We work hard to get that variety,” Lantrip said. “The end result is that we want people to have healthier food.”

The Food Bank works with various organizations and offers multiple programs to help provide fresh, nutritious food to community members. These programs include:

Mobile Harvest: Throughout the month, the Food Bank’s Mobile Harvest program visits neighborhoods across Northern Nevada and Eastern California to distribute produce and other fresh food items to those in need.

Plant a Row: When planning your garden in the spring, consider dedicating a row, or even an entire bed, to your neighbors in need. As you harvest your garden, you can also donate any excess produce that may otherwise go to waste. Many of the Food Bank’s partner agencies accept donations of garden fresh produce.

“If people are gardening and they
have a zucchini plant that goes crazy, they tend to give it to their neighbors and their friends…” she said. “So, we organized it so that people can take that extra produce right to our agencies.”

Nutrition Education Program: The program recognizes that knowledge is power, and works to educate adults and children about nutritious food choices, simple food preparation, safe food handling, getting the most nutrition with a limited food budget and increasing physical activity for healthy living. The program also includes Smart Shopper – a class for adults that focuses on making the most from their food budget – and Nutrition on Wheels, which offers nutrition tips and recipes.

Although food drive donations are key when feeding families in need, produce and monetary donations allow the Food Bank to continue providing nutrition education programs and produce to our community.

“We know that food drives are so tangible,” Lantrip said. “People love that they are going to give a can of food that will go to a family. We know that that’s part of food banking, and we want people to be able to give that way. But, we do want to let them know what we can do with money.”

Monetary donations allow the Food Bank to work with organizations such as the California Association of Food Banks and Ag Against Hunger. These organizations partner with local growers, processors and shippers to help end hunger by channeling fresh, healthy surplus fruits and vegetables to the Food Bank for pennies per pound or even for free (if the Food Bank pays for freight).

“So that’s the kind of thing we can do with dollars, get healthier food in here,” she said.

Every $1 donated equals 3 meals for those in need. If you’d like to host a food drive this season, connect with the Food Bank of Northern Nevada and encourage people to give healthier foods including low-sodium canned goods, vegetables, fruit in juice (not syrup) and whole grains.

For more information on the Food Bank of Northern Nevada, call 775-331-3663 or visit


1 in 7 people in Nevada is food insecure

1 in 4 children in Nevada is hungry

More than half of the clients that the Food Bank of Northern Nevada serves are children and seniors

30% of client households have a member who has served or is serving in the U.S. military

Every day, Food Bank of Northern Nevada clients make tough choices to keep food on the table:

69% choose between food and utilities

63% choose between food and transportation

69% choose between food and medical care

58% choose between food and housing

How they do it:

Food donors and sources: The Food Bank of Northern Nevada receives food from grocers, manufactures, farmers, food drives and more.

The Food Bank of Northern Nevada: Annually, the Food Bank distributes enough food for more than 15.3 million meals.

Partner agencies and direct service programs: Food is distributed in our community through food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters and Food Bank programs.

Neighbors struggling with hunger: Children, families and seniors have access to the food they need.

Statistics provided by the Food Bank of Northern Nevada