This Veterans Day, Mountaineer Food Bank wants to recognize the brave men and women who have courageously served to protect our country. We know one of the most important ways we can honor our nation’s veterans is by ensuring they have access to the nutrition they need to thrive.
Through our Veterans Table Program, we serve veterans and active-duty military with a supplemental food box each month which consists of a variety of shelf-stable and fresh produce items. Currently, this program is facilitated through Veterans Affairs hospitals and community partner sites in Clarksburg, Beckley, Charles Town, Charleston, Parkersburg, Morgantown, and Gassaway.
From January of 2023 to September 2023, this program has provided over 12,000 food boxes to food-insecure veterans in 96 distributions!
At the heart of the Veterans Table Program, are our dedicated volunteers and partners who selflessly devote their time to help feed our veterans. Among these unsung heroes are DAV (Disabled American Veterans) volunteer drivers.
The Disabled American Veterans (DAV) helps veterans and their families through various means, including a transportation network. On any given day, the DAV fleet of drivers plays a crucial role in transporting veterans to and from essential medical appointments. However, once a month, DAV drivers through our Clarksburg and Beckley Veterans Table Program, help deliver food boxes to home-bound veterans who need them most. Of the 1,400 food boxes distributed each month through the Veterans Table Program, 300 of them are delivered to homebound veterans.
Michael a veteran himself and one of the dedicated DAV drivers at our Beckley site, helps deliver nearly 260 boxes with a team of drivers to homebound veterans scattered across Southern West Virginia. His journey often takes him through winding roads and steep hills and sometimes can take up to seven hours to complete all his scheduled deliveries.
In retirement, Michael chooses to keep himself busy by volunteering in various ways including, the Veterans Table Program. When asked about his motivation, he explains, “This program supplements food needs and frees up income for other necessities for the veterans served by the program.” Michael’s words echo the sentiments of countless volunteers who understand the significance of their work enhancing the lives of those who served our country.
Yet, for Michael and many others like him, the impact goes beyond providing food. He believes DAV drivers have a unique opportunity to contribute to the mental health and well-being of the
veterans they serve. “I connect with the veterans, enjoying the extra 5 to 10 minutes of conversation”, he shared, underscoring the importance of human connection, especially for veterans who may be isolated or facing various medical challenges.
Ruann Hardy, Chief of Development and Center Engagement at the Beckley VA notes that the Beckley DAV is number one in the country, logging more hours, traveling more miles, and transporting more veterans than any other VA in the country. “In southern WV, the lack of public transportation is a hardship for veterans. Having the food delivered is a bonus. The DAV is so important,” said Ruann.
As we salute the dedication of volunteers, partners, and DAV drivers like Michael, we are reminded that it's through their collective efforts that we can honor and give back to those who have sacrificed for our freedom. To donate or learn more information on our Veterans Table Program, please visit mountaineerfoodbank.org