The nonprofit organization that provides meals to low-income students on weekends has moved to a new location and will be providing an additional service this year.
After four years in a warehouse space on Highway 50 East, Food for Thought is now operating out of the North Town Plaza in north Carson City.
"This is a huge improvement for us," said Executive Director Stephanie Gardner. "It's more centrally located. People can find us, and there's more storefront space."
With the new office, she said, will come some changes. The most notable is that, in addition to receiving meals, students who qualify for the program also will receive a book each month.
"Our mission statement says we want to nourish kids," Gardner said. "It's not just food that nourishes kids, it's learning and books."
The idea came about during the new summer program where free lunch was provided every week day in Park Terrace, next to Empire Elementary School. As part of the program, representatives from Friends of the Library handed out books one day.
"The kids were so excited to get a book," Gardner said. "In these families, if there's an extra $5, it goes to buy food or laundry detergent or other necessities. It doesn't go to buy a book. And studies show that children who have 25 books or more in their homes stay in school longer."
With a $250 donation from the Artsy Fartsy art gallery in Carson City, the organization bought a pallet of 2,000 books from Grass Roots Books in Reno.
"A lot of them are school books. We have chapter books," Gardner said. "We can get them in English and Spanish."
Gardner said she expects the number of students in Carson City, Silver Springs and parts of Douglas County who qualify for the program to increase this year.
In the sixth week of school, 627 students already are enrolled. By the end of last year, Food for Thought was serving 781 students. Over the summer, 3,676 lunches were served, about 67 per day, from June 4 to Aug. 24.
"When the economy is hurting, we have more children in the program," she said. "When people are out of work, the children need support."
Each Friday, students in the seven-year-old program discreetly receive a bag of food for the weekend from their schools.
Gardner said it costs about $100,000 a year to feed the children. The bulk of that, she said, comes from private donors, including a $1,000 grant this year from NV Energy. Both office spaces have also been donated.
Gardner said she has heard from school representatives that many of the children who qualify for the program rotate with their families living in homes of different friends and family members.
"A lot of times," she said, "school and this food is the only consistency they have in their lives."
If you go
WHAT: Food for Thought ribbon-cutting
WHEN: 5:30 p.m. Oct. 24
WHERE: 3246 N. Carson St., Suite 118
You Can Help
To donate food, money, books or to volunteer with Food for Thought, go to nvfoodforthought.org or call (775) 885-7770.