GASSAWAY, W.Va. (WBOY) — The Health Plan and Mountaineer Food Bank have created a partnership with health centers across the state to help tackle food insecurity in the Mountain State in a more nutritious way.

The organizations created the “Food for Health” program which has them work with a handful of clinics in West Virginia to be able to provide healthy foods to those with chronic health conditions where food is one of the major barriers that they are trying to overcome.

The Food Bank provides aid to 48 out of West Virginia’s 55 counties, feeding almost 200,000 people within the state.

“This small pilot program is going to target about 150 to 250 families, but we hope to see that grow to reach everybody that needs it,” Mountaineer Food Bank CEO, Chad Morrison said.

To celebrate the kick-off of the new program, the Food Bank, The Health Plan and its volunteers gathered at the Food Bank’s Volunteer Center on Tuesday to help fill food boxes.

Each box weighed 31.6 lbs. after being completely filled and contained:

  • 1 box of corn flakes
  • 1 box of shredded wheat
  • 1 bottle of grape juice
  • 3 cans of chicken
  • 3 cans of kidney beans
  • 2 bottles of 1% milk
  • 2 bags of spaghetti noodles
  • 3cans of mixed fruit
  • 4 cans of vegetable soup
  • 4 cans of spaghetti sauce.

The boxes packed on Tuesday will be delivered to senior citizens sometime in November.

Both organizations and its volunteers come together to tour the warehouse. (WBOY Image)

“West Virginia’s a unique state. We have a lot of issues, and some of the issues, non-medical issues, that impact our healthcare are our food, transportation, and housing.. And so, this is one of the ways that we can help take away one of the obstacles of getting good healthcare,” Health Plan CEO and President Jeff Knight said.

Officials with the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) showed their support for the partnership by attending the event on Tuesday. Dr. Sherri A. Young, Incoming Secretary for the Dept. of Health, and Interim Secretary for DHHR expressed her amazement that two organizations are coming together to help residents in West Virginia communities. Young said that the benefit resources are not always enough to combat food insecurity completely and that, “not one agency or entity can do this by themselves so to see everybody coming together. This is what West Virginia is all about.”

At the Volunteer Center alone, 5,000 boxes are filled a month and will then be distributed to senior citizens. Currently, there is one full-time employee, and a part-time employee who rely on community volunteers helping when they can. The Mountaineer Food Bank is always searching for volunteers to help in filling boxes. If interested in volunteering your time, you can reach out to the organization at 304-364-5518.