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Keeping Las Vegas families fed during the pandemic

Yvonne Perez and her two foster children wear face masks to protect against COVID-19.
Yvonne's Perez' kids hang out outside their home.
Posted at 10:28 AM, Apr 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-23 16:28:27-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Yvonne Perez was laid off from her casino job on March 16, the same day Clark County School District schools were closed.

"It's been rough with trying to stay afloat and not worry about bills being paid," said Perez. "How can you not?"

Perez has an unemployment claim pending but has yet to receive money.

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As the foster mother of two young children, she said she's relying solely on the $1,000 a month she gets from the foster care system, food stamps and food programs like the one offered by CCSD.

"We've been coming to get the lunches for the kids in the morning, which has been a really big help," said Perez.

And although she says she'd like to access other community food programs, like the drive-thru option offered by Three Square, she said the lines have been too long - sometimes hours - to justify the gas money.

"My check engine light is on," she explained. "So, I'm not trying to break my car just to stand in a line for two hours for a box of food."

Is a box of food worth the cost of gas it takes to wait in line? Or of risking needing car repairs sooner? These are the kinds of daily challenges families across Southern Nevada face every single day.

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"Our families were struggling before and now all of that's just exacerbated," said Perez.

Tami Hance-Lehr, CEO of Communities in Schools Nevada, said the nonprofit is currently working with around 100 agencies to eliminate barriers and keep families fed during this pandemic and beyond.

"We've been doing some home deliveries, so our site coordinators will literally put the bags in their cars and take them over to their kids homes and do that," said Hance-Lehr.

She says CCSD principals are helping identify families most in need of help.


"Any principal that has identified a family that is at high risk, that is not being served by another social service organization and can't leave their home [and] doesn't have someone shopping for them," Hance-Lehr said, "CIS is going to be the nonprofit that is going to facilitate that and work with those families and get them into Delivering with Dignity."

Hance-Lehr says while CIS is working to meet the immediate needs of students and families, she worries about the long-term effect school closures will have on kids.

"Our kids are dealing with adult size problems that they shouldn't have to deal with," said Hance-Lehr. "So we're just doing everything we can to make sure we can eliminate whatever barrier that might be."