Gassaway, W.Va. – Following the closure of all non-essential businesses, both Mountaineer Food Bank and Facing Hunger Foodbank have seen an increase in demand for assistance. To meet those needs, West Virginia’s two food banks have ramped up efforts to feed the state’s most vulnerable. While precautionary measures have been taken, both food banks continue operations to serve the needs of those facing hunger in all 55 counties in West Virginia.
“The emergency food supply chain has not been disrupted despite the COVID-19 pandemic. Both food banks in the state continue to receive USDA emergency commodities to distribute to food pantries and other feeding programs in all 55 counties,” said Commissioner of Agriculture Kent Leonhardt. “Mountaineer Food Bank and Facing Hunger Food Bank continue to deliver and distribute food to the most vulnerable populations in the state which no anticipation of that changing. Additionally, both food banks are sourcing truckloads of other food to distribute into the emergency feeding network.”
To meet the demand, both organizations have responded by distributing Emergency Food Boxes to partner food pantries and through mobile food pantries. The Emergency Food Boxes contain a variety of shelf-stable food items, as well as, proteins and produce. Although distributions have been modified, both food banks remain completely operational and will continue distributing USDA food and Emergency Food Boxes to their network of food pantries throughout the state.
“Facing Hunger Food Bank has so many wonderful partner agencies without whom we could not meet the almost 40% increase in need that we have had in these early days of the crisis,” said Cynthia Kirkhart, executive director at Facing Hunger “Although there may be very tough days ahead, we are grateful to be able to partner with Mountaineer Food Bank and the Department of Agriculture to insure that all in need across our great state are served.”
In addition, the National Guard has stepped in to help both food banks pack Emergency Food Boxes. On average, the National Guard is packing around 1,200 boxes a day to be distributed to partner food pantries and mobile food pantries across the state. Thanks to their assistance, the two food banks can focus on continuing to feed those in need during this time.
“We are committed to feeding families here in West Virginia and doing that in a safe and effective manner is our number one priority, said Chad Morrison, executive director of Mountaineer Food Bank. Our food pantries are doing a wonderful job in this crisis, and we will continue to provide them food to feed their communities.”
While operations continue for both food banks, the need for funding remains. With an increase in demand for assistance also comes an increase in cost for both organizations.
To make a donation, individuals can visit www.mountaineerfoodbank.org or www.facinghunger.org to donate online. Every $1 donated can provide up to 10 meals for those in need. For updates on both organization’s response efforts, individuals can visit the organization’s website and Facebook pages.
The West Virginia Department of Agriculture protects plant, animal and human health through a variety of scientific, regulatory and consumer protection programs. The Commissioner of Agriculture is one of six statewide elected officials who sits on the Board of Public Works.