KINGWOOD — The number of people served by the mobile food pantry in Preston County increased from March to June.
According to figures provided by Food For Preston, numbers served went from 454 families comprised of 1,123 individuals in March to 710 families comprised of 1,479 individuals in June.
“We are seeing more new families,” Tammy Laney, director of Food for Preston, said. “Families who may never have needed pantry services before are finding themselves in need as this pandemic stretches on.”
She said Food for Preston is working to provide county residents with safe access to food through drive-thru distribution, to-go boxes at pantry doors and delivery to home-bound senior citizens, and by wearing masks and maintaining distance.
Empty Buckwheat Express buses collect Mountaineer Food Bank Mobile Food Pantry food, then deliver it to senior centers for individual pick-up throughout the county. This reduces seniors’ risk of coronavirus exposure.
Laney said pantry boxes and bags of fresh produce, frozen meat and bread, along with cupboard staples like soup, rice and beans, are being distributed to help families make ends meet.
“Right now that is key,” she said.
Laney said Food for Preston has also been hosting the MFB Mobile Food Pantry each month.
Laura Phillips, director of Community Programs for MFB, said the next MFB food give away will be 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. July 27 at the Craig Civic Center.
MFB provides food and other household items to over 450 feeding programs in 48 counties in West Virginia. These programs include food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, senior programs, Veterans Table programs, mobile pantry programs, school food pantry and backpack programs.
Laney said local partners in this endeavor include the Craig Civic Center, Kingwood Volunteer Fire Department, Preston County Sheriff’s Department and the Preston County Health Department.
Volunteers from Food for Preston, United Way of Mon and Preston Counties and local National Guardsmen direct traffic, prepare and load boxes of fresh, frozen and nonperishable food to be distributed to hundreds of Preston County families.
Laney said Food for Preston is also making sure backpack-program students do not go without food this summer.
“Food for Preston and AmeriCorps volunteers have been loading nonperishable food boxes and bags onto school buses every other week,” she said. “Preston County
School bus drivers and staff are keeping both school food and backpack-program food flowing to students throughout the county.”
Laney said success is due to volunteers.
“Preston County always steps up to help others and now more than ever people are working together to safely feed students, seniors and families during this pandemic,” she said. “Our work at Food for Preston is only possible because of support from our local partners, dedicated volunteers and generous donations.”
Contact information for some pantries has changed.
These are up-to-date numbers:
Preston food pantries
Kingwood area — Kingwood Apostolic Food Pantry, 304-864-6153; North Central West Virginia Community Action food vouchers, 304-329-1028; Raymond Wolfe Food Pantry, 304-329-3644; Salvation Army Food Pantry, 304-329-1245; Starting Points Baby Pantry, 304-329-1968.
Bruceton Mills area — North Preston Food Pantry, 304-594-6210.
Masontown and Reedsville areas — Valley Food Pantry, 304864-5515.
Rowlesburg area — South Preston Food Pantry, 304-454-3059.
Terra Alta, Aurora and Cranesville — Terra Alta Food Pantry, 304-789-6276; Maple Spring Food Pantry & Hot Meal Program, 304-735-5291.
Tunnelton, Howesville and Fellowsville — Shepherd’s Tent Food Pantry (emergency only), 304-216-9321.
For more information about Food for Preston food pantries, the backpack program, or to make a secure online donation go to www.foodforpreston.org, call 304-379-3519, or write P.O. Box 1175 Kingwood, WV, 26537.