Three ways to battle North Tahoe-Truckee hunger problems | SierraSun.com

Three ways to battle North Tahoe-Truckee hunger problems

Anne Rarick
Special to the Sun-Bonanza

Donating canned vegetables and fruits is one easy way to help solve local hunger problems.

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — The month of September is Hunger Action Month, a national campaign developed by Feeding America to raise awareness to the fact that 1 in 6 Americans struggle with hunger.

This statistic is very real in the North Lake Tahoe and Truckee communities. Approximately 27 percent of Tahoe/Truckee residents are living under 200 percent of the poverty level, meaning a family of four earns less than $44,100 per year.

Locally, Project MANA aims to reduce the incidence of hunger and its detrimental effects upon individuals, families, the community and the region. Our main program is our weekly mobile food distribution that takes place in Tahoe City, Truckee, Kings Beach and Incline Village.

In 2014, Project MANA served over 3,000 people in North Tahoe Truckee, including almost 900 children and 300 seniors. Anyone who is in need is welcome to come and receive both perishable and non-perishable items: Canned goods as well as fresh produce, dairy, eggs, bread and occasionally meat.

Project MANA is able to distribute healthy, nutritious food that meets the nutritional standards of the federal USDA MyPlate program. Through the mobile food distribution program, Project MANA distributes approximately 4,200 pounds of food weekly, 20,000 pounds of food monthly and 218,400 pounds of food annually. This equates to a distribution of nearly 2,500 meals weekly, 10,000 meals monthly, and 160,000 meals annually.

Below are three ways you can help:

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1. Educate

Many people don't believe there are hungry people in North Lake Tahoe and Truckee because the problem is well hidden among beautiful vistas and snow-capped mountains. The reality is that seasonal work based on tourism combined with a high cost of living creates hunger for many of our neighbors.

The more we can inform community members about our programs and services, the better we can serve our community. Educators and community leaders can connect with Project MANA's Outreach Coordinator to request a presentation for your group about what hunger looks like in our community.

2. Volunteer

Each month, Project MANA depends on over 70 volunteers to organize and distribute food to our neighbors. This diverse group of individuals helps us make our mission of reducing the incidence of hunger possible, and support Project MANA staff every step of the way.

Please contact our Volunteer Coordinator Kelsey Poole at  volunteer@projectmana.org or call 775-298-0107 for information about training and volunteer opportunities. Project MANA's annual Thanksgiving distribution program Let's Talk Turkey requires added volunteer efforts and will take place the week before Thanksgiving. Currently, Project MANA is seeking committed, consistent volunteers to help at our Kings Beach distribution on Wednesday afternoons, or in our Incline Village-based warehouse during multiple shifts throughout the week.

3. Donate

Project MANA welcomes both food and monetary donations. Our most needed non-perishable food items include peanut butter, cereal, canned soups, canned meat such as tuna or chicken, and canned fruit and vegetables.

Food drives through local schools, churches and other community groups support Project MANA programs throughout the year. Monetary donations support our ability to purchase fresh produce through local distributors, and support our general operating costs.

Without a committed team of staff members, Project MANA would be unable to provide the highest level of service to community members in need. For general questions or to learn more, call 775-298-0008 or find us online at http://www.projectmana.org.

Anne Rarick is Outreach Coordinator for Project MANA. Email her at outreach@projectmana.org or call 775-298-0104 for more information.