GASSAWAY, W.Va. – Normally, when the Mountaineer Food Bank mobile food pantry shows up to distribute food to needy people, it requires more than 30 volunteers to stuff and distribute these food boxes. But, with the current spread of COVID-19, the food bank is trying to eliminate the need for volunteers.
Mountaineer Food Bank Executive Director, Chad Morrison described the process and how, the Army National Guard is helping to protect the community.
“We’re trying to put safety first, so we’re pre-packing these boxes before we send them out to the community, that way those volunteers don’t have to expose themselves to risk.”
The new food boxes are created at the Mountaineer Food Bank’s massive centrally-located warehouse in Braxton County. The National Guard has created a team to efficiently pack the boxes.
“These soldiers have been brought on to state active duty to help out with the ever-growing pandemic,” said Major Joshua Poling with the WV Army National Guard. “They’re comprised from soldiers from all across the state, all walks of life.”
The soldiers have created a food box assembly line in order to work effectively. The team then quickly fills the boxes with non-perishable food items using a conveyor belt. The jam-packed boxes, which are designed to feed a family of four for 30 days, are sealed and put onto pallets.
“As of now, we’ve been here four to five days,” Specialist Kendall Harris of WV Army National Guard explained. “We were told two weeks, but that can be extended at any time if they need it. So, we’re here as long as they need us, so we’ll keep cranking them out.”
Cranking them out is an understatement. This production line is producing more than 1,000 boxes a day.
“Well, first and foremost, we are soldiers first. Secondly, this is what we come together and why we joined the military, to be part of things like this. This is a super important role and just being able to help out and work with the Mountaineer Food Bank. It’s an amazing opportunity for these soldiers to get some camaraderie and a sense of pride in their communities and help out with that.”Major Joshua Poling
Morrison explained that the most important part of this whole process is taking care of the community and for them to know that the food supply wont be stopped by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We just want to make sure that people understand that our food supply chain is still consistent. We’ve had no disruptions in that. We’re continuing to get food into the Mountaineer Food Bank, and we’re continuing to distribute food even more than we were before,” Morrison explained. “So, it’s just real important that people know that food is still going out.”
Those who wish to learn more, can do so by clicking this link to head over to the Mountaineer Food Bank’s website.