Wellness Works Food Pantry Program helps local community

The Raymond Wolfe Food Pantry is at 134 S. Price St., Kingwood. Call 304-329-3644 for info.

KINGWOOD — Diabetes and dental issues are the two most common health problems reported by clients at the Wellness Works Food Pantry in Kingwood, according to Alix Evans, Preston County Outreach coordinator for the Raymond Wolfe Center.

The Wellness Works Food Pantry Program was developed by Catholic Charities. The program’s goal includes providing food for low-income individuals and families with special needs.

Along with regular food orders, the pantry provides food for those with special dietary needs. Those might include food that is salt free, sugar free  for diabetics, special food for people with food allergies and food for those with dental problems. In April, Evans said, the pantry served 179 families comprised of 357 individuals.

“If someone comes in with dental issues, we ask if they would like hamburger or canned chicken instead of other types of meat,” Evans said. “Both of those items are easier to chew.”

Evans said to receive food, an application must be completed. Once it is established the family lives in Preston County, they can receive food from the pantry once per month. The food order is based on the family’s needs.

“We give only food items the client can use,” she said. “We look at how many people are in the family and what their special needs are.”

The size of the family is used to determine how large the food order will be.

The Raymond Wolfe Center is funded through Catholic Charities. It in turn relies on other organizations like the United Way.

“We also rely on donations through churches, schools, individual donations and businesses like Walmart, Shop ‘n’ Save and Pizza Hut,” Evans said.

The Raymond Wolfe Center is a member of Food for Preston and receives some donations through it.

Evans also receives food from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and purchases food from the Mountaineer Food Bank. Food from USDA and Mountaineer Food Bank are received once a month.

Food is not the only assistance available at the Raymond Wolfe Center. Evans said clients can receive help signing up for the SNAP program (formerly known as food stamps) or for Social Security. When funds are available, clients can apply for help with utility bills. The Preston County Humane Society’s spay and neuter applications are also available.

Catholic Charities recently rented another room for the Raymond Wolfe Center.

“This gives us increased space for food for emergencies,” Evens said.

It will also provide extra office space for equipment and staff. She said emergencies happen. If someone loses their food due to a power outage they can come to the pantry and receive extra food.

It takes dedicated staff and volunteers to run the Wellness Works Food Pantry. In April, 23 volunteers worked 179 hours.

“Every bit of food we give away involves ordering, bringing it in and serving the families. It takes a lot of volunteers.” Evans said the volunteers are long-term and most are senior citizens who are retired. A Vietnam veterans group meets the truck delivering the USDA and the Mountaineer Food Bank trucks and helps load the food.

“I’ve been here for six years,” Evans said. “It’s a very rewarding job.”

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