Carson Valley Community Food Closet seeks donations for expansion
With more than 6,000 families experiencing food insecurity in Douglas County, the Carson Valley Community Food Closet successfully helps them with grocery assistance — but things are getting cramped, which makes it difficult for the organization to continue feeding the hungry.
As county-wide food insecurity rate is at 12.9 percent and continues to rise, the food closet proposed a $2 million project expansion, as it serves more than 500 families and provide 26,000 meals per month.
The organization is searching for a building with at least 10,000 square feet of space. For the last 21 years, the food closet has been operating out of the 2,100-square-foot Hussman Building on Waterloo Lane in Gardnerville, with more than 50 volunteers — and counting — serving as staff.
“We’re hoping for a one-time commitment to this project from our community,” said Managing Director Sarah Sanchez.
With that, the campaign supporting this project is named “Bringing More to the Table.”
“We’re just the funnel for business helping businesses, run by the community for the community,” Sanchez said. “We want to offer that service with dignity and do whatever we can with donations, whether it’s food or funds. A new building will help us succeed even more.”
The food closet has a live online charity to raise $1.4 million in three years. As of August, $373,326 has been donated by contributors.
At the current facility, families picking up food often have to wait outside; the lobby is too small to hold 20 families at a time waiting for food, especially during the holiday where the number may swell to 100 families per hour.
Majority of the food closet’s clients are adults. Children under 18 make up 38 percent of clients, and 17 percent are seniors.
But with a new facility, the food closet will be able to offer more under one roof to its clients: a temperature-controlled lobby, distribution area, and storage; four offices, plus a room to host a social services case worker; a learning room with a kitchen to provide samples of distributed food items, and cooking classes; access to ADA compliant public bathrooms and 29 paved parking spaces, including handicap-accessible slots, grocery cart access, and a donor drop off station.
This variety also gives the food closet an opportunity to host programs such as the cooking classes, budgetary and dietary seminars for clients, and a school-age volunteer program.
If the food closet doesn’t expand, the same old routines will be stuck on repeat; an overflow of donations will be stored four miles away, in a donated warehouse space. To replenish supplies, staff members have to travel eight miles round-trip, including after hours, to the warehouse, where access is limited.
Moreover, in peak donation months, all food must be sorted, date-checked and organized at the warehouse, where volunteers must cope with cramped space, no heat, no permanent bathrooms and a dirt road that becomes impassible on wet weather days.
“The bulk of our clients are in Gardnerville and being in proximity to them is beneficial for us,” Sanchez said. “We really want to give our clients that parking lot access.”