If not for a generous $10,000 anonymous donation, the Salvation Army of Southern Nevada’s food pantry would have been bare by closing time today.
The nonprofit used some of the funds to buy about seven pallets of food from Three Square food bank, which donated another 11 pallets on Thursday, said Leslee Rogers, Salvation Army spokeswoman.
On Wednesday the nonprofit announced it was experiencing a serious shortage of food donations and asked for the community’s help.
“This should get us through a couple of weeks,” said Michael Wells, who oversees the Salvation Army’s food warehouse, of the supplies purchased with some of the funds from the $10,000 donation.
Local nonprofits are seeing a growing number of people seeking services. A sharp decline in donations, such as the one the Salvation Army is experiencing because of high demand over the summer, makes it difficult to meet the rising demands.
Eligio and Lucila Barrera, ages 80 and 79 respectively, were among those waiting for help at the Salvation Army’s food pantry on Thursday afternoon. The couple from Bell Flower, Calif., has been staying in Las Vegas with their son for about a month.
“We are here asking for help,” Eligio said in Spanish. “We are always looking for ways to make our money last.”
Matt Muldoon, chief development officer at Three Square, said his agency works with almost 200 nonprofits in the valley that are on the front line of feeding people.
The nonprofit recently released the results of a study that shows that there are more than 344,000 Southern Nevadans who don’t know where their next meal will come from, Muldoon said.
“The need, unfortunately, has only been increasing in Southern Nevada,” he said. “Our partners that are on the front lines have been seeing this year-over-year increase. To us, it is not unusual. Hunger is a crisis in the community.”
Other nonprofits serving the poor and the homeless in Clark County can obtain food from Three Square at 9 cents a pound, and there are other programs that provide free food.
Three Square gets its food from a variety of sources, including large distributors and area grocery stores, such as Smith’s Food and Drug Stores. The nonprofit “rescues” food that’s going out-of-date from grocery stores instead of having it go to landfills, Muldoon said.
But over the years, Three Square has been “rescuing” less food from grocery stores because some stores have closed and others have reduced their stock.
The Salvation Army on Thursday got about 20,000 pounds of food, or the equivalent of about 60,000 meals, from Three Square, Muldoon said.
Leslie Carmine, spokeswoman for Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada, said their food pantry is doing fine now, but also has seen an increase in people seeking services.
“We are OK, but we are getting more clients so I don’t know for how long we’ll be OK,” she said.
Catholic Charities serves about 150 families every day through its food pantry, Carmine said.
The Salvation Army’s food pantry provides food assistance to about 200 families every day, Rogers said.
The homeless population the Salvation Army serves is not being affected by the pantry’s food shortage because the nonprofit has a budget to cover their meals, she said.
Earlier this year, the Las Vegas metropolitan area ranked among the top 100 in the nation for its level of suburban poverty, according to the Washington, D.C.,-based Brookings Institution. In 2011, city poverty in Las Vegas was at 19.4 percent. The suburban poverty rate was 15.8 percent.
The Salvation Army said it still needs donations. People can drop off non-perishable food or make a cash donation at the food pantry at 1581 N. Main St., or at the administration office at 2900 Palomino Lane. People can also call 702-870-4430.
Contact reporter Yesenia Amaro at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0440.