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Hundreds of West Virginia residents benefit from Saturday’s mobile food distribution in Clarksburg | News

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WV News) — Boxes full of bread, chicken, oranges and other foodstuffs were made available to about 250 local residents Saturday during a Mountaineer Food Bank mobile food giveaway in Clarksburg. 

The food giveaway, which was held behind the Harrison County Senior Citizens Center, was actually rescheduled from Dec. 5 due to an increased number of COVID-19 cases.

“We get calls (for food) everyday,” said Britnie Anderson, Mountaineer Food Bank’s mobile pantry assistant. “We help 48 of the 55 counties in West Virginia.

“You never know people’s struggles — people are out of jobs — but this ensures people will have food on their table at the end of the day. Anybody in the community is welcome.”

Each vehicle received one box, with the first being given out shortly before 11 a.m. Boxes were available until 1 p.m. 

Beth Fitzgerald, the Harrison County Senior Center’s executive director, wasn’t sure how many people would show up due to COVID-19 concerns.

“We’ve tried to reassure people that it’s safe,” she said.

Anderson, who has worked at Mountaineer Food Bank since March, said the drive-thru pantry helps ensure the safety of both recipients and volunteers. 

“Our numbers of mobile food pantries have increased since the coronavirus, trying to make sure that we hit more people. I see how amazing this is, so I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else,” she said. “It’s a great place.”

Barbara Oldaker, administrative assistant for the In-Home Program and coordinator of the Senior Citizens Center’s weekly food program, called the distribution rewarding and praised her volunteers and co-workers for their efforts. She hoped for even more outreach in the future. 

Even though only a certain number of volunteers were accepted to allow for social distancing, more than a half-dozen people joined with center staff to distribute the food boxes. 

While Angela Goldsmith of Stonewood filled boxes of bread, husband Lonnie directed traffic and helped load vehicles. 

“This is the first time I helped, but my wife warned me it was like this,” Lonnie said, as he directed dozens of vehicles through the alley. “But, I enjoy doing it.”

Lost Creek’s Roger Turner has volunteered the past few months. His wife Vickie works at the Senior Citizens Center. Twelve-year-old granddaughter Meah Flanigan also volunteered Saturday.

“Everybody needs help right now,” Vickie Turner said. 

To limit participant contact, recipients filled out information while waiting in their vehicles before receiving boxes. Contact information was taken in case any food was recalled.   

Another food giveaway was held Aug. 26 in the Clarksburg Baptist Church parking lot, but Oldaker said Saturday’s distribution included different types of food. 

The Senior Citizens Center is involved in weekly ongoing food distribution projects that help homebound seniors. Those include monthly food boxes for seniors, pick up at local retail sites where that food is disbursed back to seniors, operating emergency food boxes on Monday and Thursday, and the governor’s feeding assistance boxes on Tuesday.

“As you reach out, it’s like your family is growing,” Oldaker said.

The next Mountaineer Food Bank mobile food pantry will be held from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Wednesday at Doddridge County Park. It’s located at 1252 Snowbird Road in West Union.

The Mountaineer Food Bank will continue mobile food giveaways as planned as long as the county stays below the threshold of daily cases (100 cases) for this area. If the cases exceed the threshold over two days, the event will be canceled.

Staff Writer Jonathan Weaver can be reached at (304) 626-1446 or jweaver@theet.com. Follow me on Twitter @jweaver_theet

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