Columns/Opinion, Community Advisory Board

Hunger leaves an impression on us forever

By Jerry Kessel

Eating is the most routine ritual of daily life for most of us.
But if you are elderly, sick, disabled or homebound you may be unable to prepare meals.
Consider Morgantown Area Meals on Wheels (MAMOW) as your solution. To set up an interview send an email to
For 45 years MAMOW has been a nonprofit service of love that provides hot, nutritious, affordable meals to clients in their homes.
No public funds are earmarked for MAMOW. The Monongalia County Commission did grant the organization $5,000 to support exterior building maintenance and painting and to upgrade the kitchen’s fire-suppression system.
So, what’s cooking? How about 22,165 meals in 2017. Once the food is packaged and placed in coolers, volunteer drivers are on their way Monday through Friday. They travel close to 1,000 miles weekly.
At its annual meeting April 10, the term “foodie” took on a new definition with the election of Mavis Grant-Lilley as president. That’s because she is a co-founder of Empty Bowls, the organization that supports food pantries.
Now, back up 73 years to a World War II POW camp in Austin, Ind. My father was the camp medical officer. Mother and I spent the summer nearby in Crothersville. We took our meals at the town’s only restaurant, but it was closed on Sundays.
Dad arranged for us to eat Sunday dinner at the camp. I often wondered if I was the only U.S. youngster who could honestly say members of Rommel’s Afrika Corps prepared my dinners.
One of our family friends from Charleston fought in Africa and was captured. He survived but was undernourished when liberated.
Eating is not routine when you have no food or are on a starvation diet over which you have no control. Think about the Holocaust and the ordeals endured by allied personnel held in POW camps.
And there were short rations elsewhere. That prompted this let-ter from my father in June 1945 to the camp surgeon, in Atterbury, Ind.:

“In this camp are 580 German prisoners of war of which 95% are engaged at hard work for eight hours a day as this is a labor camp. For the past several weeks, since their diet has been restricted, I have observed that a number of the prisoners are losing weight and becoming fatigued more easily. On two occasions a prisoner has fainted while performing ordinary duty.
“Complaints from the prisoners about insufficient food is increasing. The German prisoner of war cooks are getting maximum foods from the rations received. There is no garbage waste.
“In some instances prisoners have eaten canned foods while working in the canning factory. Prisoners … cannot purchase
any foods or drinks at their
Post Exchange.
“The present diet is inadequate for the prisoners of war and … their rations should be increased to the appreciable extent.”
I believe the pen is mightier than the sword.
Jerry Kessel is a member of The Dominion Post’s Community Advisory Board.