Mutual Aid Efforts Fill Gaps Left By Government COVID Response


John Locher/Associated Press

The Culinary Academy Las Vegas distributed Thanksgiving dinners last year to people affected by the pandemic.

As COVID-related business closures and self-isolation measures went into effect, thousands of Nevadans lost jobs overnight. The need for food, rental assistance, unemployment insurance, and more overwhelmed government resources.

So community members across the state who could help their neighbors stepped up — they started food pantries on their front porches. They created online resources for people in need.

Kim Foster is a James Beard award-winning food writer and contributor to Nevada Public Radio’s magazine, Desert Companion.

Her family converted their little free library into a food pantry it started small at first, but eventually she was helping organize a team of volunteer cooks who put together fresh, nutritious meals for hundreds of people every month.

Megan Simons founded the Reno-Sparks Mutual Aid Facebook page to provide support and connections during the pandemic. She says that even though the pandemic is easing, the tough times will continue, particularly as evictions are allowed to resume.

Support comes from

"I think we are going to be seeing a wave of need," she told State of Nevada. "Right now we are seeing people who are posting needing to find a new place."


Kim Foster, James Beard award-winning food writer, Desert Companion contributor; Meghan Simons, founder, Reno/Sparks Mutual Aid Facebook group; Jennifer Elliott, founder, Sun Valley Karma Porch; Peverill Squire, Political Science Professor, University of Missouri

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