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Hunger and Homelessness at the Lake

Food donations help alleviate Tahoe’s housing crisis

The+Project+MANA+truck+brings+groceries+to+those+in+need.
The Project MANA truck brings groceries to those in need.

The Project MANA truck brings groceries to those in need.

Photo credit: Gabby Dodd

Photo credit: Gabby Dodd

The Project MANA truck brings groceries to those in need.

Gabby Dodd, Reporter

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Lake Tahoe, renowned for its beauty and outdoor activities, attracts thousands of visitors each year. The basin was ranked No. 2 on U.S. Travel News’ list of the top 10 U.S.A. travel destinations this year.

Tahoe’s economy thrives largely on its seasonal travelers, who generate revenue through expensive housing and dining. A number of homes spotted around the shores of Incline Village, Crystal Bay, and Tahoe City are multimillion-dollar properties bought up by the wealthy, including houses famously owned by Howard Hughes and Warren Buffett. Many of these properties are vacation homes that sit vacant except for a few weeks of the year.

Meanwhile, for the community of people living and working in Tahoe full time, affordable housing is hard to find. In Kings Beach, the Domus Management Company built an affordable apartment complex several years ago to help alleviate the low-cost housing crunch.

“The Domus complex studios start at $750 a month, one bedrooms start at $1,100, and currently none are available,” said Amy Kelly, executive director of the North Tahoe Family Resource Center. “Not an hour goes by that we don’t have someone coming in desperate to find housing.”

According to a report broadcast by KUNR in Reno, the Domus complex has a waitlist of more than 200 people, and it can take up to two years to secure a spot.

Anne Rarick is the program coordinator at Project MANA (Making Adequate Nutrition Available), an organization devoted to using food as a tool to prevent homelessness. She says that Tahoe “is in the middle of a housing crisis. People who have lived here for several years can’t afford to live here anymore. They can’t buy property or even pay rent.”

Project MANA provides food for roughly 3,000 individuals in Incline, Kings Beach, Tahoe City and Truckee. The organization distributes groceries and meals weekly in these towns, plus they make home deliveries to people who have mental or physical limitations.

“By providing people with food, we allow them to save $50-100 to put toward utilities or rent,” Rarick said.

Chris Nunez, a resident of Truckee, suffered from a stroke three years ago. Nunez says he is “always grateful” for the home deliveries Project MANA provides. He has a difficult time walking, which makes it hard to drive or go to work.

“Every week, MANA gives me pastries, milk, eggs, fruit, canned goods and rice…basically everything I need,” Nunez said.

Bread & Broth, an organization in South Lake Tahoe, also strives to feed the community. Every Monday night, St. Theresa Grace Hall serves up hot meals and to-go bags of groceries. Community members say they attend to socialize with friends and save on food expenses. And they can put that savings toward rent or another meal later in the week.

Carol Christensen, 70, has lived in Tahoe for more than 44 years and has attended the Monday night dinners since Bread & Broth started its program.

“The food is always good, and it really helps out everyone in the community,” Christensen said. “Even though most of us need homes, Monday night always makes sure that we are at least fed.”

Bread & Broth was founded in 1989 and runs completely off donations. Besides their Monday night meal, they also help support disadvantaged Lake Tahoe Unified School District students.

Other organizations also make an effort to help Tahoe’s disadvantaged. Together, the Truckee Tahoe Airport District and Vail Resorts  have dedicated $180,000 to the Tahoe Truckee Community Foundation to help community members get placed into affordable housing.

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Hunger and Homelessness at the Lake