WHARTON, W.Va. — Mountaineer Food Bank , Facing Hunger Food Bank and the W.Va. Department of Agriculture distributed food to laid-off miners at the Wharton Community Center Dec. 9.
The contributions by Mountaineer Food Bank and Facing Hunger were bolstered by two tons of potatoes grown at W.Va. Department of Agriculture farms in Mason County, W.Va.
During the food drive, boxes where filled with an assortment of turkey, ham, vegetables, rolls and a pumpkin pie.
Cars quickly formed a line to collect the holiday food boxes.
Melanie Paul, with the W.Va. Department of Agriculture, explained, “This is something that Senator Ron Stollings had asked me about on Dec. 2. I am the coordinator for the state..so I work with both of the food banks and 427 food pantries, soup kitchens and senior centers across the state to make sure that federal food gets to people who need it.”
Chad Morrison, director of Mountaineer Food Bank and Cindy Kirkheart, director of Facing Hunger noted both organizations serve Boone County by providing food to people who are in need.
Kirkheart commented, “This is an opportunity to us to pay attention to the needs of the recently laid-off miners by getting an extra mobile pantry here and support our ongoing effort. Especially at the holidays, everyone needs a little extra, and when money is tight, you have to consider the needs of the family. That’s what we’re doing.”
Commissioner of Agriculture Walt Helmick added, “What we want to do is be able to contribute where we can in situations like this. Obviously it’s a difficult time. We want agriculture to be a part of the economic picture in W.Va. We can grow throughout W.Va. We know, at the end of the of the day, that we will move to the next level…”
Over the last year, there has been a movement in Logan County and southern W.Va. as a whole to attract agriculture jobs in the form of raising and processing pork.
During an interview with the Coal Valley News, Helmick explained the movement to bring the pork industry into southern W.Va. saying, “We are looking at southern W.Va. for a number of things we can do in agriculture. We are looking at Logan heavily. We know that we have the things big agriculture is looking for. We are looking at growing and processing pork in southern W.Va. The southern delegation has worked diligently with us — Art Kirkendoll, Ron Stollings and others in Mingo County. We are going to walk slow and make sure we do everything environmentally sound so we can promote jobs and a way of life that we can be proud of.”
Helmick added that former mountaintop removal sites are a geographically ideal for raising and processing pork. Helmick explained many agricultural firms are looking for places that have infrastructure like Southern W.Va.
“Big agriculture is looking for three-phase power, water and rail access. We can do this here,” noted Helmick.
Owen Wells is a reporter for Civitas Media. He can be reached at 304-369-1165 ext. 1661 or by email at [email protected]