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Fighting hunger: Volunteers making a difference

Published: Feb. 26, 2021 at 4:55 PM PST
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TAHOE RENO INDUSTRIAL PARK, Nev. (KOLO) - Each month the only thing standing between more than 100,000 northern Nevadans and hunger is the Food Bank.

This impressive operation distributes food through more than 147 agencies, but it is very much a community effort.

Out on the front lines, at neighborhood pantries and the Food Bank’s own Mobile Harvest events, much of the work is being done by volunteers.

“That’s been really important for our drive-through distribution,” says Food Bank Director of Marketing Jocelyn Lantrip speaking of the Mobile Harvest events. “Packing food on-site and also putting it in the car.”

At the warehouse, you’ll see staff stacking the shelves, but it’s volunteers sorting donated food, organizing it for distribution.

In times past you’d see more of them on a typical shift. Their numbers are limited these days to keep everyone safe from the virus. And you’d see more groups, company co-workers, service organizations. Another impact of the pandemic: Volunteering these days tends to be more of an individual decision.

The volunteers represent a pretty good cross-section of the community, but if you talk to them about why they’re here, you’ll start to hear variations of the same answer.

“I’ve always been fortunate,” says Debbie McKillip, pulling her second shift, “and my heart bleeds for people who don’t have enough to eat. It’s a horrible thing.”

Denise Drazy-Shedd is in her second year of volunteering. She says it keeps her active. “I’m just here because it feels good and it’s an exercise that benefits someone else besides me.”

Nicole Swoope is a senior in neuroscience at UNR. “We’ve got a few weeks before finals and I think there’s been a lot of hardship with the pandemic. I have some free time and I wanted to use it helping out my community.”

Would they recommend it to anyone with a few hours to spare? Yes, they would.

“Do it,” says McKillip. “You don’t even need to come out here. There are places around town where you can help out. It’s a really good deal.”

You can find out the ways you can help by visiting the food bank’s website: https://fbnn.org/.

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