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Home and rental prices continue to soar in Northern Nevada and Northeastern California, leaving more working families and individuals on the brink. Seniors, college students, single parents, immigrants, and the working poor are particularly vulnerable. Some must choose to pay rent over buying food or securing healthcare. The lack of affordable housing in urban and rural areas alike is changing the identity of this region. In response, the KUNR newsroom is examining housing through many lenses, including the economic, political, and public health impacts.You can also subscribe to the Priced Out Podcast on iTunes, Google Play, and Stitcher.

Food Pantry Prescription Program Helps Patients Get Better Nutrition

Anh Gray

People who are considered rent burdened spend roughly a third or more of their income on housing. This leaves many families with less for other essentials like food or healthcare. Reno Public Radio’s Anh Gray reports there’s a program that is helping low-income people battling illnesses get the nutrition they need.

The Food Bank of Northern Nevada has partnered with local agencies like Renown Health and the community health center Northern Nevada HOPES on the Prescription Pantry Program. The goal is to help patients with some ailments get better health outcomes with adequate nutrition.

Al Brislain heads up the food bank. He says, "When somebody, for instance, with diabetes gets discharged from the hospital, or in talking to their doctor, it’s determined that they’re food insecure, they don’t have enough food at home, they’re able to get a prescription for that food and go to selected pantries and they get healthy food.”

Armed with a prescription for better nutrition, a patient can head over to a participating food pantry. Cindy Becher runs the St. Francis of Assisi Food Pantry near downtown Reno. “We had one fella that said that he’s battling cancer and that his doctor is telling him that he needs to eat healthier," Becher explains," and he came in here and he goes, ‘This is exactly what my doctor has been telling me I need to be eating.’ So it’s been helping a lot of our clients with different ailments.”

The pantry stocks up on healthier options. “We have whole wheat," Becher says, "I like to keep quinoa on our list, brown rice, I like to have that. I like to have low sodium; I like to have low sugar, so things that are pretty much labeled that people can grab that is better for them.” Other items include a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables including kale, carrots and bananas. The program receives funding from the State of Nevada.

Anh Gray is a former contributing editor at KUNR Public Radio.
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