Heat wave takes out food bank's freezer

In a battle of nature versus technology, nature won out during a string of 100-degree days in July, when temperatures were just too high for cooling equipment at Friends in Service Helping, an all-purpose social service program in Carson City.

Mid-way through the heat wave, the nonprofit agency's air conditioning went on the fritz while struggling to keep up with the heat, which is several degrees hotter atop the flat roof of FISH's building on Long Street. Later, when FISH volunteers and workers came in to open up the food bank one morning, they found the center's large walk-in freezer couldn't keep up either.

Instead of below freezing, the air inside the food bank's cooler was room temperature, and so was the ice cream.

"The good news is, this time of year we don't have it stocked yet," said FISH Executive Director Monte Fast.

The walk-in freezer is used almost solely for the community food bank, which serves between 40 and 50 families a day. A separate refrigerator holds food for FISH's daily free lunch program. The freezer becomes crucial in fall, when FISH starts stockpiling frozen turkeys for the upcoming holiday season. The organization distributes about 400 turkeys annually.

All that was lost when the freezer went out three weeks ago was some ice cream. Frozen items like hamburger and bread were moved to the kitchen for the lunches, Fast said.

From 3-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, FISH serves hot lunches to anyone who needs one, to anyone who "doesn't have a place to cook, who lives in cars or motels," Fast said. Lunches are served from 1-3 p.m. Sunday and the only day the FISH kitchen volunteers take off is Christmas, when the Carson Nugget generally provides free meals.

Parts to repair the freezer should arrive any day now, Fast said. All that remains is for FISH to come up with money to pay for it.

The repair cost is about $4,000.

"That's a chunk of money for a nonprofit to come up with," Fast said.

Although an industrial-size freezer may seem spendy for a nonprofit, Fast said "we've got to have that thing operating, or we're dead for winter."

n Contact reporter Cory McConnell at cmcconnell@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1217.


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