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Feeding Your Family (and Yourself) During the Coronavirus Crisis

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(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

A volunteer uses rubber gloves while handing out lunches at a food distribution center set up by the Dream Center for those in need due to the coronavirus outbreak, Monday, March 16, 2020, in Los Angeles.

Among the concerns of those finding themselves without work, one of the most basic and immediate is, “How will I feed my family?”

Coronavirus: What You Need To Know

For many, the daily answer to that question is, “At school.” Although Clark County School District has suspended classes until mid-April, the district will continue to provide breakfast and lunch to students during this time. Distribution begins Tuesday, March 17, and will take place at 22 locations throughout Southern Nevada. Sites and times are found here.

In CCSD’s announcement about the program, it noted, “In order to comply with federal regulations, a school-age child must be present for food to be distributed. The pickup location will be set up outside of the school sites to facilitate distribution.” It also says it’s working with the government and community to offer additional food and will let everyone know when that happens.

Three Square is perhaps the best-known local food bank. That organization’s president and CEO, Brian Burton, posted a letter to the community describing their stepped-up sanitation efforts and the establishment of a new Coronavirus Emergency Food Fund, “which will allow us to quickly respond and serve those affected by quarantines, school closures, and economic hardships.”

To get food to as many people as possible, Three Square is working with CCSD, Station Casinos, the LDS Church, and government agencies to set up 43 emergency distribution sites. They have different dates and times; a map and list are located here. (The site separates drive-through sites, where walk-ups aren't permitted, from pantries, where they are.) To focus on that effort, Three Square has suspended its normal food distribution to partners other than those involved in the COVID-19 response.

The organization reaffirmed its commitment to helping seniors, urging those age 60 or older to call 702-765-4030, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Three square advocates can also help seniors with SNAP assistance.

Burton added that volunteer training sessions are expected to run as scheduled for non-high-risk people (those at high risk are asked to stay home). Anyone interested in helping out in this way, or by donating, can find out how at threesquare.org or 702 644-3663.

Food stamps, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is the government-funded service for those who need help paying for groceries. Nevada’s Division of Welfare and Supportive Services, part of the Department of Health and Human Services, runs SNAP. It reopens Tuesday, March 17, after a brief closure, though an announcement on its website encourages people to apply online or call rather than going to local offices.

“It is all too clear the toll the COVID-19 is taking throughout the State on businesses and their dedicated employees,” the message reads. “For those whose employment has been impacted by the repercussions of COVID-19 we encourage you to call or go online to apply for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP), Medicaid or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).”

The office didn’t return Nevada Public Radio’s call for clarification about eligibility, but it said questions about this should directed to the Women, Infants and Children administrative office at http://nevadawic.org/contact-us/wicgeneral@health.nv.gov or call 1-800-863-8942.

There are also community meals at Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada in the corridor housing several services for people experiencing homeless. On its website, a letter from Deacon Tom Roberts, the organization’s president and CEO, said staff were taking additional precautions, as recommended by the CDC and Southern Nevada Health District, to protect its thousands of daily patrons.

“We remain dedicated to providing food, shelter, and wraparound services as we thoughtfully navigate the uncertainties of the future,” Roberts wrote. “As we work together as sisters and brothers to walk this challenging journey together, I humbly ask you to continue to keep CCSN’s staff and clients in your thoughts and prayers.”

Donations to Catholic Charities can be made here.

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