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"Stepping Up To Fill The Plate” In The Face Of WV Foodbank Shortages


Monday, February 23, 2009   

Gassaway and Charleston, WV - The economic crisis is squeezing the Mountaineer Food Bank at both ends, according to its executive director.

A survey published by the New York Times shows demand is up by 30 percent at food pantries across the county, and Carla Nardella says that matches what they are seeing locally. Plus, she says, Mountaineer's wholesale donations have fallen by one-third in the last two years. To make up the difference, they're relying on food drives and donations from local retailers.

"A few years ago, as hard as we tried, we couldn't get anybody interested in helping us do a food drive. And now, people are calling us and saying, 'We want to do a food drive. We want to do something to help.'"

Last year, says Nardella, a program to pick up food from local retailers began in June with just five companies making weekly donations. By November, the figure had risen to 45, a number she hopes to double soon.

Local food pantries are also getting creative to raise donations in the face of increasing demand. This week, Covenant House in Charleston hosts its third annual "Canstruction," an exhibit of sculptures built entirely from donated canned goods.

Executive Director Amy Weintraub says the event gives local architecture, engineering and building firms a chance to be creative for a good cause.

"We've had whitewater rafting scenes, with an entire raft made out of canned goods. We've had a scale model of the city of Charleston, with a coal barge going down the Kanawha River."

This year's Canstruction exhibits will be assembled on Tuesday, February 24, and displayed through Saturday, March 1, at Clay Center in Charleston. Admission is a donation of -- what else? -- canned goods.

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