LEAN Supports Nevada Covid-19 Hunger Relief

Lutheran Engagement and Advocacy in Nevada (LEAN) recently received a wonderful  surprise gift. A very large donation came through the Sierra Pacific Synod from St. John’s Lutheran Church of Sunnyvale, California.  This blessing arrived the first week of April, in the midst of the Covid-19 lockdown, and just as the state unemployment offices were being overwhelmed with claims.

Volunteers from the Food Bank of Northern Nevada take part in a drive to help hungry residents through the Covid-19 shutdown.

LEAN  was aware that food pantries throughout Nevada were likewise being overwhelmed. Although LEAN’s mission is advocacy to address the root causes of hunger and poverty, the board recognized that a direct response to the emergency was appropriate, and also wanted to make a tithe in gratitude for the gift.

Northern Nevada is in the Sierra Pacific Synod, and Southern Nevada is in Grand Canyon Synod. LEAN’s board decided to contribute to feeding programs in both Synods.  A gift of $5,000 went to Food Bank of Northern Nevada. The Food Bank is an industrial-scale operation that supplies food pantries throughout Northern Nevada, including Elko, Winnemucca, and other locations in what we refer to as “the rurals.”

“The Food Bank is so grateful to partners like LEAN,” said Nicole Lamboley, President and CEO of the Food Bank of Northern Nevada. “We are seeing significant increases in families who need our help during this crisis and we wouldn’t be able to meet that need without partners who share our passion for helping our neighbors.”  The photos in this article are of a one-day event in Reno which served 900 families. 

Southern Nevada has multiple food assistance programs, but LEAN is especially close to Lutheran Social Services of Nevada.  LSSN offers many types of services, and among them is a food bank.  This food bank is unique in Nevada, having pioneered “Digi-Mart.”  This is an online shopping application. Pre-approved clients can order the items desired, and LSSN workers assemble the orders for client pickup. This has been particularly beneficial during the Covid-19 crisis because contact between client and LSSN staff is reduced.  LSSN people simply drop the order in the trunk of the client’s  car.  The ability to choose enhances client dignity and autonomy and reduces waste of unwanted products.

Digi-Mart has experienced a huge increase in demand.  On one recent morning, LSSN delivered food equal to 60% of what would normally be distributed in a month.  LSSN leadership posted on its Facebook page the following comment: “Thank you to our partners at Lutheran Engagement and Advocacy in Nevada (LEAN) for your gift of $5,400 to help with our Covid-19 Emergency Distribution in the Digi-Mart! Your support will help us continue to combat hunger at a critical time in our community and in our world. We are so grateful!”

A different agency serves Nye, Esmeralda, and Lincoln Counties, so a tithe of the gift allocated to Southern Nevada went to Nye Communities Coalition. This is an “umbrella” organization that assists other service agencies by providing resources and coordination.

Tammi Odegard, Chief Operating Officer of Nye Communities Coalition, said, “Your donation has allowed us to ‘fill the gaps’ where grant funds won’t allow or don’t exist.  With the new (and ever-changing) CDC guidelines, the food banks are being saddled with additional expenses for personal protective equipment for their volunteers/staff. To date, your donation has allowed us to purchase masks and gloves for the local food banks. They have been so appreciative, as the donations they receive are usually restricted to food only.”

Ms. Odegard added, “Thank you again for your generosity, we are hopeful we can continue to partner together to benefit the communities in Nye, Esmeralda, and Lincoln counties.”

LEAN shares that hope.

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