MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Pantry Plus More, a nonprofit organization, gave away over 15,000 to 17,000 pounds of food to roughly 800 people as part of its monthly Mobile Food Giveaway.
The organization does this every third Saturday of the month at different locations in order to reach as many different communities as possible. It is in the same vein as their pantries in 13 schools in Monongalia County, where they provide food, clothes, school supplies, and hygiene products. Most of the food at the giveaway comes from Mountaineer Food Bank but other groups in Monongalia County also donate. There were nonperishable items, perishables like bread and meat, as well as clothing.
The Jacques family, a family of four, was among the roughly 200 households served at the event. Angelica, the mom, her husband, and two kids stopped by the three-hour event and left with a wide variety of food. She said her son had recently had surgery to fix his hearing, which would mean a lot of medical bills and not of money left for food.
“They’re always willing to help,” Jacques said “They don’t ask questions about where your background or anything is. They don’t judge, no matter where you’re from and makes it nice so no matter what you do you don’t come in here and you don’t feel like somebody’s going to look at you like you’re below dirt for needing a hand and there are a lot of places that do that, which is nice so I don’t ever have to worry about it.”
Jacques said the family has been coming to the food distribution on and off for the last few years and that she was appreciative to have it as a resource in times of need.
Roark Sizemore, the president and co-founder of Pantry Plus More, said Saturday’s event was the first time since they started in 2016 that they were able to give away foods like pork loin and chicken breasts because they had recently received a certification from the U.S. Department of Agriculture allowing them to do so. Sizemore added that they have plans of using the new certification to provide what he called the food “that people really want”.
“There’s something so nice about being able to provide food for that week or that month,” Sizemore said. “But having it be stable, something that people can rely upon so that they can save maybe for that medical thing that they been putting off or maybe that car repair that they didn’t have money for. This is just another thing that they don’t have to worry about, that they can just rely upon, so it’s something that I take a lot of pride in.”
He said a big problem the organization runs into is that many people do not have acar so they cannot take advantage of their food distribution. As a result, he said they are willing to work with those in need to help them find a ride to the giveaways, which are open to anyone living in the state.
Transportation is critical to people accessing their food and resources, therefore, he said it is one of the focuses of the organization.
“With this program, we’re trying to expand out and to make sure that we’re hitting all parts of the county, that we’re reaching all the people that need to know about it and in West Virginia in general, access is a huge problem– transportation,” Sizemore said. “It’s not a place you can walk around to, so finding new ways to get bus routes going, to get transportation, to bring it to them, that’s what we’re focused on.”
To make this all possible, Pantry Plus More uses as many volunteers as they can get. Sizemore said there’s always room for more and encouraged anyone looking to help their community to reach out to the organization.