Local non-profit helps those in need, and not just during the holidays.
There are people who have a hard time finding enough to eat in this country. Once a month since 2011, the Food Bank of Northern Nevada has been delivering part of its donations to the Inyo Mono Advocates for Community Action (IMACA) in Mono County. Donations include fresh fruit and vegetables, juices, eggs, pastries and bread, and whatever else the bank can get its hands on to give away to those in need. Monetary donations do good, too. The food bank states it can get three meals out of a $1 donation.
The holidays are a time for purchasing and consuming, but it is also known as a time for giving, and people want to donate during this time of year. But the need is present year-round. Northern Nevada’s Operations Manager and Friday’s driver Brian Smith said the mission and hope is for people to recognize the need and donate all year. While the number of applicants doesn’t necessarily spike during the holidays, the holidays can be a tough time with work slow and visitors arriving.
Smith said if the donations were steady, there might not be an extra strain during the holidays, as people will be helped out all year and the stress is spread out over 12 months not just one or two.
The Food Bank of Northern Nevada serves more than 103,000 clients per month, covering 90,000 square-miles. For more information or to donate, visit fbnn.org or call 775.331.3663.
The food bank is the middle man. It collects donations, monetary and perishable, then delivers to Mammoth, where food is distributed the last Friday of every month at the Catholic Church. Volunteers from Benton and June Lake take a share of the load from Mammoth and the Bishop IMACA Office gets pallets full of food that will later be distributed as far south as Lone Pine and Tecopa. The Lee Vining Fire Chief comes with his own truck and trailer to deliver from Bridgeport to Lee Vining. Volunteers Josephina Gonzales and Lorena Caballero take loads to June Lake. Firecracker Caroline Balliet loads her Subaru with Benton’s share.
Lou Hill, veteran IMACA volunteer of northern Mono County, said there is always need for more volunteers. The volunteer work can count toward community service hours for adults and juveniles. The work can also be an introduction to volunteering and the joys of doing something for others.
Applicants to receive food must meet income eligibility requirements. IMACA knows how people are going to receive food and the ordering and divvying up is based on those numbers so everyone gets an equal share. Those in need may apply on the spot. There is a translator for non-English speakers.
The mass of food and people need some direction to keep it from going sideways. This is the job of Matt Stevens, food program coordinator for IMACA. he gives orders to volunteers, “potatoes are bagged and placed here … form a line there, one at a time … everybody be patient.” He conducts the food distribution with a wave of his hand and an order shouted, transforming the pallets of food and wandering people into a well-orchestrated ballet.