CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — Food pantries around the Mountain State have reported a significant increase in demand, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Studies indicate that one in seven adults often goes hungry, and one in five children are underfed. Because of that, House Speaker Roger Hanshaw has established a bipartisan working group of lawmakers to study and find solutions to the hunger problem.
“It just came to the forefront with us having to make so many deliveries to homes and businesses and churches, for school lunches. And then during the summers, we are hearing so many horror stories of kids who are going a day or two without even a solid meal,” said Del. Joshua Higginbotham, (R) Putnam, who is a member of the Hunger Working Group.
Advocates for feeding those in need, include the Mountaineer Food Bank which operates in 48 of the state’s 55 counties. It has high hopes for the new legislative working group, to not only provide more food but to address other issues.
“The related root causes of hunger, whether it be a health issue, whether it be a connection to substance use disorder treatment. Whether it be unemployment, getting help with job applications and finding employment. These things are all connected,” said Caitlin Cook, of the Mountaineer Food Bank.
The House of Delegates hunger working group has six Republicans and six Democrats.
It’s not just action at the state level. Congress must vote to reauthorize the Child Nutrition Act before the end of this year. It provides billions of dollars to help children dealing with food insecurity across the nation.