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February 11, 2013

‘You never know how much that little bit helps’

Salvation Army’s food pantry serves nearly 100 households each month

FAIRMONT — The Salvation Army does a lot in the community, from utility assistance to a thrift shop to helping pay for prescriptions.

One of its most important programs is the food pantry, and at the moment it could use a little help.

“On a monthly basis we assist roughly 100 households,” said Executive Director Heather Hawkins. She said that’s somewhere around 350 individuals each month.

Clients who meet federal eligibility guidelines can come in once a month, meet with a caseworker and receive a food order. The Salvation Army provides meat, fresh fruit and vegetables donated by Food Lion, and nonperishables, Hawkins said.

Some of the food comes from the Mountaineer Food Bank, which distributes food donated by Walmart and other major grocery stores that has passed its sell-by date, but is still OK to eat. The rest comes from donations.

“We’ve been very blessed,” Hawkins said. “The community’s always very generous. Anytime we reach out to them, they very graciously come and donate and give us food to help those in need.”

Especially this time of year, she said, the need is great.

“(People) have to make some pretty tough choices between heating and extra food for the household,” she said.

She said many of the clients are elderly, and when you consider that the average Social Security check is less than $700 a month, these men and women don’t have a lot of wiggle room in their budgets.

Keeping the food pantry well stocked, Hawkins said, “is an ongoing and constant battle.”

It’s a battle she believes is worth fighting.

 

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