As I continue to work with Retired Seniors Volunteer Program I often look at other activities besides acting as a driver or respite provider. Recently I took a look at the RSVP-Department of Agriculture food distribution program. This occurs every other month. One will take place this 9-11 a.m. Friday. Next would be Nov. 16.
Requirements to take part in this program operated by RSVP are simple - a Nevada photo ID and income for a single person at or below $16,775 or $22,695 for two. For four it is $34,575.
The distribution happens at the Community Center in Carson City, where I recently took part. I got in line at 9 and was perhaps two-thirds of the way back.
Procedure was to follow the line around the U to the top of the second leg where RSVP people directed citizens to go a desk where their identity cards (usually drivers' licenses) were checked, their names and addresses added to a sheet and the applicant signed on the dotted line, confirming their eligibility for the program.
I got to the check-off desk after about an hour in line - not bad considering the number of applicants showing up. At the desk, I confirmed that I was single and received a card with the number 1 on it. I took that to a distribution counter and was handed two heavy plastic bags of food stuff. Included were a frozen pound or two of ham, navy beans, spaghetti (plain white, while I used whole wheat, but who's to complain?), cans of fruit and fruit snacks and cranberry-apple juice. And apple sauce - the woman ahead of me complained, "Always apple sauce! Ugh!"
Not being an apple sauce fan I agreed with her. (USDA please note.)
The average take for a single person probably came in at $15 in value, but for those in need it could be critical. Navy beans can go a long way as long as you're not in the gourmet category. Combine with the ham for U.S. Senate bean soup. Too bad no fresh veggies, but it is easy to see that could be a problem in handling.
Not such a big turnout for a city of 50,000, less than 1 percent. And not a food stamp operation - you had to line up and take your turn. Only one bench along the U-shaped line. But the troops there helped those who had a large family (six seemed to be the max) carry their food to their cars, most of which were average, few wrecks.
RSVP handles this in cooperation with all involved. No pay, lot of standing around, early hours. It would be rewarding for those who oppose handouts of any kind to take in a USDA food distribution. They would be able to see the actual faces of those in need.
Incidentally (don't tell the USDA), I gave my food to a family I know who could use it. The kids were unimpressed but the mom blushed and thanked me instead of the USDA.
If you need further information on upcoming USDA food distribution events in the area or around the state, call Tannis Causey, RSVP program director at 775-687-4680 ext. 7. If you'd like to help by volunteering for the USDA or many other agencies ready to help seniors and others in your community, RSVP can help you find a match for your time and talent.
• Sam Bauman writes about senior affairs, among other things, for the Nevada Appeal.