The Hazel Ruby McQuain Charitable Trust has announced a donation of $820,000 to the United Way of Monongalia and Preston Counties to manage and facilitate, in partnership with other local organizations, a Family Food Box Program that will operate at least through the end of this year.
A total of $750,000 will provide 1,000 boxes each week to area families, and $70,000 will be used to renovate space within the former Ramada Inn, where the program will be housed.
The landlord of the former hotel is the nonprofit organization Morgantown Community Resource Inc. This food box program is a model initial resident at the facility, which will provide space to assemble high-quality food and supply boxes containing seven days’ worth of breakfast, lunch and dinner options, as well as essential hygiene items.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the community in countless ways, one of which is increasing food insecurity. During the pandemic, state food pantries have reported a 53% increase in food requests. The United Way is well-positioned and eager to address this local, urgent need.
The United Way will manage the funds and facilitate volunteers to pack and distribute the boxes through current outreach efforts until delivery with food pantries and volunteer food groups is organized. Currently, the Feed Mon Kids team is working with Pantry Plus More and the Mountaineer Food Bank to obtain needed items and manage registration. Collaborations and partnerships will continue to help the food insecure in the aftermath of the pandemic, and the United Way is proud to be an integral part of that process.
“We want to express tremendous gratitude to the Hazel Ruby McQuain Charitable Trust for stepping up to help combat pressing student and family food insecurity and needs magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Brandi Helms, chief executive officer of the United Way of Monongalia and Preston Counties. “We hope this will serve as an example to other state networks and volunteers in West Virginia. We’re so thankful to be able to partner with the trust to help feed families in Mon and Preston counties.”
In collaboration with the United Way, several groups and individuals have been vital to establishing this program. Justin Byers, Feed Mon Kids founder and Bartini Prime owner; Nancy Walker, Mon County Board of Education member and United Way board member; Ron Lytle, Mon County Board of Education president; Ron Justice Mylan Park Board president; Morgantown Community Resources Inc.; and Mountaineer Food Bank have provided valuable efforts and will continue to assist the program throughout 2020.
The Mylan Park Board offered the J.W. and Hazel Ruby McQuain Conference Center for packing and distribution of food boxes during recent months. While the space at the former Ramada Inn is renovated, volunteers will continue to use the facility at Mylan Park, as available.