Bread & Broth getting donations, giving away bags of food
The commitment of Bread & Broth over the last 30 years has solely focused on the mission to ease hunger in the South Lake Tahoe community.
That mission took on new meaning beginning in mid-March with the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak when record numbers of individuals sought out food assistance from the various programs and services provided by B&B.
Services previously provided by B&B have been modified. Instead of hot, nutritious meals served on Mondays and Fridays, individuals and families receive bags of non-perishable staples (canned goods, rice, soups, meats, etc), fruits and vegetables, bread and pastries, and dairy products (milk, eggs, and butter).
These foods are distributed twice weekly at St. Theresa Church-Grace Hall: Mondays from 4-5:30 p.m. and Fridays from 3-5 p.m.
Food bags are also provided to local homeless families and Warm Room elders being housed at local motels. Any leftover food is taken to the Warm Room currently housed at the recreation center.
The B&B 4 Kids program, which has provided weekend food bags for children at their school sites, now consists of volunteers following LTUSD school busses to the various bus stops and the four distribution locations at school campuses each Friday.
“During an average week, B&B 4 Kids distributes an average of 175 bags to children; now with the outbreak, we are handing out 350 bags of kid-friendly, nutritious weekend food,” said Cheryl Breitwieser, one of the program’s team leads in a press release.
“The need has doubled in the last few weeks,” said Carol Gerard, director of Bread & Broth. “More families are reaching out for assistance — individuals who have lost their jobs and livelihood. Children are showing up at the bus stops, asking for additional food. Our goal is to make sure that during this very difficult time, we continue to feed those facing food insecurity in our community.”
These sentiments are reinforced by those showing up to receive the food bags.
As one mother in the line waiting to pick up her food shared, “The food support is very good for families. We have six members in our family and only one is now working and this food makes a big difference.”
Bread & Broth is an all-volunteer organization with approximately 225 volunteers serving in various capacities. But with the COVID-19 outbreak and the increased number of those needing food assistance, over 75 additional members of the community have stepped forward to volunteer.
All volunteers are asked to adhere to strict safety guidelines recommended by public health organizations and the CDC.
“These individuals have willingly come out during ‘Shelter-in-Place’ to assist, always asking to come back to help out again,” said Breitwieser. “Some of these individuals have themselves lost their jobs and have struggled during the crisis. They have truly been amazing”.
In addition, the community has provided incredible support with food assistance and financial donations. Major food providers include the El Dorado Food Bank, Smart & Final, Safeway, Whole Foods, McDonald’s, Raley’s at the Y, and Pizza Hut.
Vail Resorts has made several large food donations and has contributed volunteers and delivery support as they have closed down their mountain resort. In addition, Barton Hospital, Edgewood Tahoe and Harrah’s/Harvey’s restaurants have contributed food donations to B&B.
Monetary donations have supported the increase in numbers and the effort to provide more food each week to those in need.
Rob Katz, CEO of Vail Resorts, in collaboration with El Dorado Community Foundation, has donated $20,000 for the purchase of food, and the Tahoe Douglas Rotary Club presented a check to Bread & Broth for $10,000.
Other large donors include Southwest Gas Foundation, Associated Energy Group, Inc., Lake Valley Fire Protection District, the SLT Firefighters Association, the SLT Police Officers Association, the Kiwanis Club of Tahoe Sierra and the South Tahoe Middle School.
Many have sent checks and donated online to support the purchase of food.
Roberta Strachan, food coordinator for B&B, commented on the generosity of South Lake Tahoe individuals.
“One volunteer stops weekly and gives $50-$100.” Strachan said. “One woman dropped in and donated 50 popsicles for us to give out. Others walk by Grace Hall and drop off donations or simply provide us with a shout out. So many people in this community have been helpful in so many ways, with praise and encouragement, support, money or food.”
With these modifications expected to last for some time and with the need continuing, the outpouring of support for B&B’s efforts to help with the urgent needs of our neighbors who are struggling with the devastating effects of this crisis has been overwhelming and heartwarming,” Gerard said. “We are extremely grateful to our community’s organizations, businesses, and individuals who are rallying behind our efforts to provide food through their generous monetary and time donations. I am so proud and humbled by the community’s response.”
Additional information about B&B and opportunities for donating and volunteering can be found at breadandbroth.org.
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With a season-dictated, tourist-based economy, the North Lake Tahoe workforce faced longstanding affordable housing issues long before Zoom’s subscription fees replaced Bay Area commuters’ bridge tolls.