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Client Choice Pantry in Sun Valley allows community members to pick and choose free food

There is a stack of shopping carts, and bins and shelves with packaged and canned foods.
Lucia Starbuck
KUNR Public Radio
Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada’s Sun Valley Neighborhood Center Client Choice Pantry on May 24, 2024.

Catholic Charities of Northern Nevada secured a permanent location for its Sun Valley Neighborhood Center Client Choice Pantry, which allows community members to browse for food they want.

“It’s completely different than what we consider a normal food pantry where you go in, and you receive a box of food, and you have no idea what’s in it. But in this case, it literally looks like a grocery store,” CEO Marie Baxter said.

Baxter said it’s a more dignified experience and allows clients to pick out culturally appropriate foods.

“If there’s certain foods that just are not comfortable for a variety of reasons, it makes it very approachable,” Baxter said. “So if you only eat fish, or if you are lactose intolerant, you do not have to take the dairy products or if it’s part of your faith that there are certain foods that you either eat or don't eat, you can pick and choose.”

Catholic Charities also has similar pantries on Moana Lane in Reno, North Valleys, and Winnemucca. Baxter would like to see one in Sparks and South Reno, too. She said there’s a high need for food in the region, especially for seniors.

“With the post-pandemic recovery, we’ve seen a lot of the pandemic supports have gone away. We’re also seeing an uptick in rent, in inflation,” Baxter said. “We’re seeing more and more people who are working two and three jobs and still can’t make ends meet.”

The Sun Valley Neighborhood Center will expand to include case workers in early June. Baxter said they’re also working to create a community garden. The pantry is open from 1 to 4 pm on Fridays.

Lucia Starbuck is an award-winning political journalist and the host of KUNR’s monthly show Purple Politics Nevada. She is passionate about reporting during election season, attending community events, and talking to people about the issues that matter most to them.