Food closet in need of more space |

Food closet in need of more space

by Caryn Haller
Marilyn Southwick and Ritch Wagner package orders in cramped quarters Friday at the Food Closet's current location on Waterloo Lane. They are seeking a more spacious space with adequate parking. If you can help please call 782-3711.
Brad Coman |

The Carson Valley Community Food Closet is bursting at the seams and needs to find a larger space.

Serving 500 families regularly, and receiving 70 new clients each month, has put a squeeze on operations.

“We’ve outgrown the space so half of our operations has to take place off site,” Director Sarah Sanchez said. “We have donated storage at Park Ranch that we use, but we don’t have access during distribution to everything we have. It ends up being a lot of work to keep what’s current here when the rest of our product is over there in a different building.”

The food closet has been working out of its 2,000-square-foot building on Waterloo Lane since the early ’90s, sharing its parking lot with Family Support Council.

“Our clients fill up our parking spaces, Family Support Council’s parking spaces and park on the road,” Sanchez said.

To have enough space for storage alone, Sanchez said they need at least 5,000 square feet.

“We often have to put surplus food out on our front porch because we don’t have enough space,” Sanchez said. “We’ve got to stack boxes up high and store items under tables to make room for storage space.”

Distribution days have also become difficult for the volunteers and clients.

Although each client gets served in less than 5 minutes, others may have to wait 45 minutes to an hour in line outside since the waiting room can only accommodate a dozen people, and there are no public restrooms.

“Our clients often times have to wait outside in the hot and cold to receive their food,” Sanchez said. “We have to tell them to go to Lampe Park to use the restroom.”

Shopping carts are also used on distribution days to help clients get their food out to their vehicles, and the aisles in the warehouse aren’t wide enough for two carts to pass.

“It certainly causes hiccups and mix-ups sometimes as to what cart goes to who,” Sanchez said. “You’re playing ring around the rosy with the carts and yourself.”

The board has discussed purchasing the vacant lot next door and building a larger facility. They’ve also looked into acquiring a building to refurbish to meet their needs such as the former senior center on Meadow Lane.

“We’re stuck and we need help,” Sanchez said. “We’re bursting at the seams, and it’s time for us to expand. We need to make our operation more efficient and less stressful on the clients.”

To help, call Sanchez at 782-3711.