Project MANA asks for help to stock up on food
INCLINE VILLAGE As snowbirds begin to pack up their belongings for warmer locales, Project MANA is asking them to pack up their pantries as well.The North Shore supplier of food for the needy is beginning its annual summer food drive on Wednesday, in hopes of collecting about 3,000 to 4,000 pounds of nonperishable food.The drive itself was designed because we know at the end of summer people return to their winter homes and clear out their pantry, said George LeBard, executive director of Project MANA.This year the need is even greater because the slow economy has taken a bite out of food supplies and crunched the job market.We really need it. Weve been struggling with canned goods, LeBard said.Project MANA weekly packs a bag of groceries for 44 home-bound clients, who are sick or elderly. Besides an allotment of fresh vegetables, fruit and dairy products, the bag also must contain canned fruit and vegetables, and other nonperishables to get the person through until the next week.We try to balance the bags with protein and starches, he said.However, there is a food crisis affecting Project MANAs ability to obtain nonperishable food. If its warehouse is low, Project MANA purchases nonperishables at the Food Bank of Northern Nevada in Reno at reduced costs.Theyve been limited by how much they can give us, LeBard said. Theres a food crisis, and its a worldwide food crisis. The price of food has gone up.In turn, food banks such as the one in Reno do not receive as much excess canned goods and has to pay more for it.The Food Bank of Northern Nevada said the cost of transportation and the economy has limited it in what it can obtain, according to Helyse Sina, the public relations officer. Sina said the main problem is not how much food, but what kind of food is available.Theres actually a peanut butter shortage right now, Sina said.The Food Bank of Northern Nevada supplies 110 agencies similar to Project MANA.We have more than enough for our partner agencies, but not much choice, Sina said. They are still getting the staples they need.Another problem for the food bank, besides choice, is a drop in donations.The donations are not keeping up with the demand, Sina said.LeBard said the demand for food has also increased in North Tahoe and Truckee this year. Right now, were not feeling it too bad because its summertime and theres jobs, he said. But when summer is over and winter hasnt started we got really hit in the spring this year.There was an increase of 30 percent to 35 percent more people coming to Project MANA for food during the spring.We want to be prepared for when summer is over and the jobs are done, LeBard said.The annual Brown Bag food drive is Project MANAs hope for filling its shelves. Donations drop-off points will be set up by Wednesday and in the next couple of weeks, Boy Scouts will be dropping off brown bags with instructions on residents doorsteps.The drop-off locations in Incline Village are Southwest Gas, the administration building of the North Lake Tahoe Fire Protection District, the Recreation Center, the Post Office and the Donald W. Reynolds Community Non-Profit Center. In Kings Beach, drop-off locations are at the North Tahoe Fire Protection District station, the post office and Plumas Bank. There are also drop-off locations in Truckee and Tahoe City.This is usually a pretty good food drive, LeBard said.