Food drive seeks to supply pantries across Greenbrier County

By Bobby Bordelon

Fellow Greenbrier Countians out of work due to the COVID-19 pandemic have brought the community together with a canned food drive, stocking the much-needed food banks. From June 1 to Friday, June 26, food and produce can be donated to this cause at Rainelle Medical Center, Old Stone Presbyterian, IGA Cornerstone, all City National branches, and Ronceverte Presbyterian Church.

The ongoing drive is currently supporting approximately 360 families, some of which have six or seven members, across five Greenbrier County food banks. Many of these families are using the food banks for the first time, having lost their job or income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Old Stone Presbyterian Church is one of several food pantries in the county.

“You see how they’re just spent. That’s the only way to say it, they just look spent,” said Jennifer Mason of Feeding Seniors, Saving Businesses. “They don’t know what to do and it’s hard for them because they’ve never had to accept help. These are hard working people and they just need our help.”

Donations of vegetables, soups, and beans have poured in and although the items are still welcome, Mason asked donors to bring two specific types of food; protein (canned meat beans, peanut butter) or canned fruit.

“What I really need are chicken and beef, those kind of canned foods would be great,” Mason said. “They needed to stock fruit. So those are the two big things right now that we need.”

If an individual is unable to donate food, financial donations will also be accepted. These gifts will supplement the protein and fruit supplies. In addition, Mason explained “the donations are also welcome because some of the families have babies and we don’t get a lot of baby” supplies and food.

The collected food and resources will spread through Greenbrier County, serving food banks in Alderson, Lewisburg, Rainelle, Ronceverte, and White Sulphur Springs. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, several of these food banks had to shut down due to the age of the volunteers running them. However, as part of drive, deliveries have become a crucial part of food distribution, particularly on the western side of the county.

For the many people that began individual gardens during the quarantine that might now have a food surplus, there’s good news – this produce can be donated as well! Food banks are searching for fresh fruits and the locally grown food could be put to good use. This includes one commonly grown fruit that is usually mistaken for a vegetable and is easy to grow.

Freshly grown produce from individual gardens is also accepted.

“Since my sister is an FFA person, she would tell me [tomatoes are] a fruit, so I would definitely classify them as a fruit. She would kill me if I didn’t,” Mason explained, laughing. “So Thursday I amass as much produce as I can. I just put it in bags and we have drivers go and deliver it to all of those people.”

Mason asked for the Greenbrier Valley community to do what they can to help those in need.

“I know our community, especially Alderson, has been hit with these floods so recently and I hate to ask people to do any more, but even if every family just gave one can we’d be better off,” Mason said. “I don’t want to ask people for too much but if they could just help us with one can that would be great.”

For those looking for help, please contact the following food bank or support site near you:

• Lewisburg – 304-645-7842 – Old Stone Presbyterian Church

• Alderson Area Help Line – 304-445-8783

• Renick – 304-407-3515

• Rainelle – 304-438-6293 – Rainelle Baptist Church

• Ronceverte – 304-647-5482 – Old Armory building

• Quinwood – 304-438-6060 – Main Street, at the three-way intersection

• Williamsburg – 304-692-5537 – Williamsburg Community Center

• White Sulphur Springs – 304-536-1353 – White Sulphur Springs United Methodist Church

• White Sulphur Springs – 302-661-1960 – White Sulphur Springs Pentacostal Holiness Church

• Rupert – Contact Well Spring of Greenbrier – 304-392-2095 – provides lunch three days a week.

• Committee on Aging – 304-645-1978 – provides meals each weekday as grab and go at Committee on Aging locations in Fairlea and Rainelle, will also deliver via Meals on Wheels.

Any additional questions can be directed to Mason by reaching her at jennifer.mason@dinsmore.com. Although the direct food donations willpreliminarily end on Friday, financial donations can be made to the Bimbo Coles & Co. Project at 1194 Barkalin Lane, Lewisburg WV, 24901 or arranged through Mason’s email.