ELKINS, W.Va. – Dozens of cars were lined up down two city streets in Elkins for a mobile food pantry at the Phil Gainer Community Center Wednesday morning. The Mountaineer Food Bank has been hosting events like this in the 48 counties it covers, and they explained that they’ve been doing even more since the pandemic started.
“The request for food has went up since COVID has started, tremendously. Typically we wouldn’t see this many families, but because of everybody getting laid off because of jobs and businesses closing and things like that, the need has just increased,” said Tabitha Mays with the food bank.
Randolph County Delegate Cody Thompson was volunteering at the pantry, helping to hand out some of the packages, designed to help keep a family fed for days to come. He said the level of need in the county is nothing new, but the effects of the COVID pandemic are magnifying it in the area.
“Even before the virus and pandemic hit, we had people who were really struggling. They might have been keeping their heads above water, but it was just barely. With this virus causing people to be unemployed or laid off right now, it’s really hurting families hard, especially older families, and families with younger children,” said Thompson.
The food bank sent enough packages for 250 families to the event, which was scheduled to go from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. But because of the turnout, it stopped accepting people around 11:30, and the truck the food bank sent was empty before noon. Food bank staff said they’ll be taking note, and are glad to help however they can in the face of great need.
“So, coming out here and seeing it, and seeing the people thanking us because they don’t know where their next meal is going to come from because they don’t have a paycheck coming in to their household, it’s sad,” Mays explained.