CLAY, WV (WOWK) – Cars lined up in Clay County, WV Friday as they do every month to receive food from Mountaineer Food Bank. The food is distributed by the United Way of Central West Virginia. This month the team also handed out extra emergency food boxes from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for people struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The United Way has been doing this in Clay County since April 2019.
“We are very thankful with all this that is going on and stuff,” said Mike Alley who was there to pick up a box. “It is really a big help.”
Long before COVID-19 was a dinner table topic people in Clay County needed help.
“Food access in Clay County is a desert,” said Kerri Cooper, Community Impact Director for the United Way. “There is zero.”
As people are being told to stay home, limit their travel and limit their trips to the grocery store residents in Clay County say it is not that easy.
“The grocery stores in Clay have been down before this. In Gauley Bridge they’ve been down. So we have to travel like 45 minutes to go to a grocery store,” Alley explained.
There are some produce stands and small markets in the area but no chain or mom and pop grocery stores in the entire county.
“They have to plan their Saturday or their day off and go an hour and a half one way, make sure they remember every ingredient and then an hour and a half back home,” Cooper said.
With kids at home eating more meals and wages lost due to COVID-19 many families are struggling mroe than ever. They are now worried not just about paying for their next meal but where to buy it and how to make the trip outside of the county without putting their family at risk.
“This is a way that we can keep them closer to home doing the things that keep them safe,” Cooper said.