Mountaineer Food Bank, the largest emergency food provider in the state of West Virginia, serving 48 of the 55 counties, continues to expand their operations and provide jobs in the Mountain State. While the food bank has continued to face an increase in demand for assistance, which has only been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. They’ve had to ramp up food distributions throughout the state resulting in the need for additional staff members and facilities.
For instance, in the year 2015 Mountaineer Food Bank distributed 10.6 million pounds of food, but that number has more than doubled to over 29 million pounds of food in 2020. While the food bank has been able to respond to the needs of struggling families with more food, overall, root causes of hunger such as food access and quality job opportunities are needed to curb the number of people struggling with hunger.
With the increase in demand and massive developments in the food banks programming, additional job opportunities continue to be made available. While the food bank is known for its food distribution in Central West Virginia, it’s also an invaluable employer in the area, maintaining 57 jobs which has grown from previously only 14 employees. Nearly 47 of those jobs are considered full-time. The food bank has adopted a culture and philosophy that taking care of its staff members will enable them to take care of those struggling with hunger throughout West Virginia. For over a decade, the food bank has paid 100% of a strong benefit package for its employees and in 2020 adopted a $12.00 per hour entry wage with plans of growing its ability to attract and retain individuals, especially West Virginians.
“Our staff is our most valuable asset and they are called upon night and day beyond the daily crisis of hunger that folks are struggling with, said CEO Chad Morrison. “The food bank responds to disasters after disaster, working on the frontlines to provide for our communities in West Virginia.”
In addition to creating job opportunities the food bank has expanded their operations with four new facilities in order to accommodate continuing growth and future development plans. Three of the sites are warehouse space to support the food banks distribution efforts. While their main warehouse is still housed in Gassaway, the food bank acquired their first additional warehouse space in 2016 located in Sutton. With little space available at their main facility, the food bank decided to expand to the 5,500 square foot Sutton location to focus on accommodating more volunteers to assist with packing food boxes and storage for senior food boxes.
In the last year alone, they have added two warehouses’, one located in Weston and the other located at Rock Branch in Charleston. The Rock Branch location came as a result of both Mountaineer Food Bank’s and Facing Hunger Food Bank’s partnership with the West Virginia National Guard. The Guard quickly stepped in during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic to assist both food banks with packing emergency food boxes to help meet the demand. The idea for a centralized food distribution center became paramount and with additional space at the West Virginia’s National Guard Rock Branch Facility, both food banks were able to quickly begin utilizing the space.
The Weston warehouse serves as a holding center for product that will later be taken to Mountaineer Food Bank’s main warehouse in Gassaway. This allows the organization to store and distribute food more efficiently.
Most recently, the food bank opened their fifth location in Flatwoods for additional office space. The new administrative offices are located at the Flatwoods Center and house the company’s Agency Relations team, Programs team, and Development team. Mountaineer Food Bank’s primary location is still housed in Gassaway, with now extended office space in Flatwoods.
The latest expansion, which coincides with the company’s 40th anniversary, will allow Mountaineer Food Bank to better serve communities across the state through additional space and resources. While all of these new facilities are not open to the public, the organization believes these additional locations will expand the food banks network and serve more families and individuals in need.
“With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we know more families and individuals are struggling across our state with food insecurity, said CEO Chad Morrison. “We are committed to doing more to meet the increased need and it starts with transforming current operations. By expanding our infrastructure, and programming we believe we will better meet the immediate needs of our neighbors while addressing the root causes of hunger,” Morrison said.
Mountaineer Food Bank continues to foster strategic partnerships across that state that will enable it to continue growing operations. Not only is the food bank serving thousands of families in need, but they’re providing quality job opportunities and generating revenue for the state. “We hope to change the perception that we’re not just a charity doing great work, but we’re critical infrastructure and an economic generator for the state of West Virginia,” Morrison said.