NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. --
“Each Reservist who comes to the food pantry doesn’t receive just one bag. If they try to take only one bag, I tell them, ‘Are you sure you don’t need that spaghetti?’”
Born out of a need to help Reservists within the wing, the 926th Wing Airman and Family Readiness Director Eileen Collins created the wing’s Food Pantry in December 2017.
“Our Reservists face additional challenges that our Active Duty counterparts don’t, such as civilian job loss and housing issues, and with decreased benefits when not in status; this can cause significant financial strains,” Collins said. “The Food Pantry allows members to provide for their family when life becomes financially stressful.”
The pantry is the only one of its kind on Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, and is open to all members and retirees.
At least 460 Reserve Citizen Airmen and their families have received assistance from the Food Pantry.
“The food bank was a tremendous help in covering food for the week I knew I would not be able to provide it,” said one airman who received food items from it at one time. “Seeing the look on my children’s faces when they opened the trunk, knowing their bellies would be full was more than a blessing.”
“Having something like this available right here in our building is such a relief; they know me, they know my kids, and it is never with judgment that they help us. I will forever be grateful for the help of our very own food bank here in the wing.”
Not only is the food a benefit, but the process is easy.
“It [food pantry] allows our Airmen in need to utilize the resource without questions or hurdles, status or not,” Collins said. “Grocery bags are provided and we have a private entrance/exit to keep this anonymity of the member.”
The community helps stock the pantry as well.
This month, the USO Las Vegas collaborated with Rights Lawyers’ Las Vegas office to hold a community food drive for the pantry. They gathered and delivered non-perishable items that can help more than 220 Reserve families.
“We would like to thank all the businesses who help and the donors who contribute goods,” Collins said. “You don’t know your impact; it’s greatly appreciated.”
The food pantry items are also given through Operation Holiday Hope, which is a program created by Collins for wingman to nominate financially stressed families to receive food, toys and gift cards to help through the holidays.