By Jonathan Williams
Times West Virginian
“This is kind of what you call ‘downtime,’” Colleen Morris, executive director of the Mannington Food Pantry, said.
After the holidays, donations get a lot scarcer, but the need doesn’t change.
“It’s hard to keep things rolling at this time,” she said.
The Mannington Food Pantry is one of 10 agencies for which the Times West Virginian is collecting in its annual Gift of Love Food Drive going on now.
The pantry started nearly 30 years ago in a local couple’s house, Morris said, and has grown into its own organization located on U.S. 250 in Mannington. Ed and Sally Allen, the founders, “saw a need in the area,” Morris said.
Every month, the food pantry serves between 390 and 400 families. An estimate of three people per family puts the number of people affected well over 1,000.
The majority of clients live in and around Mannington, Morris said. They also serve families in Wetzel and Harrison counties.
Like most of the food pantries in the county, the Mannington Food Pantry receives food from the Mountaineer Food Bank in Gassaway. They have food distributions every Wednesday from 9 a.m. to noon along with clothing and household items.
In addition, volunteers pack 100 or so backpacks every week with snacks for children at Blackshere Elementary who might not have much to eat over the weekends. A soup kitchen connected with the food pantry is expected to open by March.
They’re staying busy.
“We’re called to take care of those in need,” Morris said. “Love God, love others — that’s what we’re supposed to do.”
The Mannington Food Pantry’s board of directors is comprised of the Mannington Ministerial Association, and Morris said the city’s churches are very involved in the food pantry.