CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK-TV) — Staff at Heart and Hand’s food pantry in South Charleston say the shelves have been getting empty as fundraising and thrift store hours have been impacted because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We didn’t have the income to buy food like we normally do,” said Jenny Keener, volunteer and donation coordinator at Heart and Hand.
And yet Keener says the demand for food is higher than ever.
“What has happened is we’ve seen a whole new population of people come into our food pantry, people who have suddenly lost their jobs and have applied for EBT benefits but they haven’t kicked in, people who have applied for unemployment benefits but still haven’t received them, all of those people still have to eat.”Jenny Keener, volunteer and donation coordinator Heart and Hand
Help is on the way, as a grant designed to help smaller food pantries in Kanawha County like Heart and Hand rolls out next month.
The money allows the pantries to create hundreds of food boxes to distribute.
The money comes from the Kanawha County Commission and the greater Kanawha Valley Foundation, which received a million dollars from an anonymous donor to help the community, will fund the initiative.
“The county’s initial proposal was $100,000 and we had to kind of widdle it down, but they would match dollar for dollar what we would be able to fund and we were able to fund $45,000,” said Dorcas.
Bringing the total amount to $90,000.
County officials say hunger has increased throughout the community since the pandemic began – especially among children, who need help now.
Other small food pantries who will benefit from the initiative are Nitro Food Pantry, Sissonville Food Pantry, Fishers of Men, and the Hissom Interdenominational Mission.
Anyone can receive a box from Heart and Hand, but Keener advises those interested to call first to schedule the pickup at 304-744-6741.