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Food banks need help, too

Eileen JoyceVolunteers from Interfaith Food Ministry on Whiting Street help Shannon Brewer load groceries into her car Wednesday.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

Shannon Brewer is through living life on the edge.

After spending a year in which she and her husband lived with family, spent time in motels and took whatever odd jobs to survive, Brewer is taking this holiday season to reflect on how fortunate she really is.

For the last month, Brewer and her family – which will soon include a baby girl due next month – has taken residence at the Manzanita Family Center, a temporary shelter on Rough and Ready Highway.



“That’s why Christmas is going to be so much better this year,” Brewer said as volunteers from the Interfaith Food Ministry bagged groceries for her at the Whiting Street facility.

Like many who come to the food warehouse weekly, Brewer is counting her blessings this holiday season. There’s a roof over her head, and family lives nearby. She can concentrate on more important matters now.




“By the time we got to that point (living at Manzanita), we needed to be here,” she said. “We needed a place to be, instead of bouncing around with a new baby on the way,” Brewer said, shuffling her feet – clad as they were in fuzzy bedroom slippers. She’s grateful Interfaith could help, too.

“When you have nothing to eat, it’s great. They even gave me a Christmas tree!” she exclaimed. “My car will smell nice all day.”

With holiday spending down and the economy uncertain, Sue Hansen of Penn Valley said she plans to be cautious with her family’s holiday wish list.

“This year just seems to be harder for everybody,” she said, loading groceries from Interfaith’s pantry into her car. “There will be some Christmas presents” for her husband and daughter, “but mostly, we’re just grateful we can be a family.”

Earlier this week, a steady stream of cars filtered in and out of Interfaith’s parking lot, with many motorists waiting in their cars for any parking space within walking distance of the warehouse.

And while there was plenty of food at the warehouse, the same isn’t true for the Food Bank of Nevada County, where an increase in patrons needing food and a dearth of holiday donations is jeopardizing some of the group’s plans to provide Christmas dinner for 200 families, executive director Toni Thompson said.

“Our food supplies are at an all-time low,” she said. The food bank has plenty of canned goods but securing cash donations for overhead and money to purchase up to 200 turkeys is almost nonexistent, she said.

“This has been our worst year” for donations, Thompson said.

In November alone, 38 new families signed up for food, pushing the total number of families served in the Grass Valley area to nearly 200. That doesn’t include outlying areas such as Penn Valley or the San Juan Ridge.

“The main meal is what we don’t have,” she said. The food bank needs at least $10,000 in donations to purchase turkeys distributed to residents.

“We are only doing a very basic job feeding people,” she said.

The Food Bank of Nevada County needs donations to help assemble 200 food baskets in preparation for its annual holiday food distribution on Friday, Dec. 20. The distribution will be from 12-1:30 p.m. at the Grass Valley Veterans Memorial building at 255 S. Auburn Street. To donate money or food, or for more information, contact the Food Bank of Nevada County at 272-3796.


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