Pantries see 26% increase in need among residents
KINGWOOD — Food assistance needs continue to rise in Preston County as the pandemic stretches on.
“Following an initial spike this spring, Food for Preston has seen a 26% increase in the number of people served at local food pantries from January through November,” Tammy Laney, coordinator for Food for Preston, said.
She said that’s 2,174 people served every month or nearly 24,000 points of service putting food into the hands of people in need.
Laney said the most dramatic increase has been the number of emergency food calls.
She said there have been 721 emergency food calls this year to date, compared to 157 in all of 2019.
Emergency food calls are food boxes delivered or picked up outside a given pantry’s set distribution date and time or delivery to a homebound or quarantined household.
Polly Williams, community case manager for North Central West Virginia Community Action (NCWVCAA), said one of its biggest increases has been with families who have never signed up for any type of help before.
She said she believes the increase is due to COVID and the loss of jobs.
Williams said this year 77 families signed up for the NCWVCAA angel tree. She said along with gifts for children ages birth to 17, they also provided a food voucher and a Save A Lot food gift card.
Laney said the following companies and individuals are currently sponsoring food drives or have recently donated.
400 cans of soup donated by the nurses at Ruby Memorial Hospital.
The United Way Helpful Harvest Program gave free produce and dairy to nonprofit food pantries and senior centers throughout Mon and Preston counties in cooperation with the Preston County Workshop cold storage facility.
The Milan Puskar Foundation is sponsoring Christmas ham gift cards for Food for Preston.
Viatris Pharmaceuticals IT department is currently hosting an employee Christmas dinner donation drive to benefit Food for Preston.
Kingwood Save A Lot is hosting a food drive to benefit Food for Preston.
Kingwood Walmart is hosting a food drive to benefit Food for Preston.
Lynn Housner is hosting the Hunger Project. Proceeds from his recently published book, “Weathering Life’s Storms: My Life in a Wheelchair,” will go to Food for Preston.
The book can be found on Amazon Kindle. He also set up a Go Fund Me account. The 186-page Kindle book sells for $4.95.
“From positive partnerships, local food drives, generous donations, and dedicated volunteers, feeding Preston County is only possible when we all work together,” Laney said.