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WV Delegates urge Congress to fight child hunger; local food pantries weigh in

Published: Aug. 26, 2021 at 5:52 PM EDT
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BRIDGEPORT, W.Va (WDTV) - The West Virginia Working Families and state delegates are urging Congress to fight food insecurity by supporting President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better agenda, which the administration says would send $25 billion to nutrition assistance programs.

“Here in West Virginia 242,000 residents are facing hunger, and just over 68,000 of them are our children,” Lynette Maselli of Invest in America Action West Virginia said.

That’s where local food pantries have played a critical role, especially during the pandemic.

“Food pantries are the frontlines. This is the interface between hungry people and food access,” Del. Chad Lovejoy (D) of Cabell County said.

Mary Ellen Depue with Shepards Corner in Bridgeport has been around for decades and knows the story of those who need food all too well.

“Someone would come in and say, ‘you just don’t know how much you’ve helped me. I couldn’t feed my family.’ We really feel we have filled a niche,” she said.

The same message is being heard from those at Pantry Plus More as they feed hundreds of kids and families each week.

“No child, no person should go hungry. Food should be an essential thing they don’t have to worry about,” VP of Pantry Plus More, Micah Weglinski said.

With the goal of ending hunger, especially amongst children, a solution to help families stand on their own is what many say is needed.

“We need to invest in our future in the state, we need to get people to work in industries that are a part of the future,” Weglinski said.

Which is why delegates and West Virginia Working Families Party Executive Director, Ryan Frankenberry, are saying through the agenda, it will expand free meals during the school year and provide a monthly food spending benefit to families in need during the summer. Resulting in a heavy load taken off pantries in our area.

“They’re going to be a critical player for the foreseeable future, but we can do better, and we can build our country back to where they’re not what we have to rely on,” Frankenberry said.

According to a U.S. Census survey, West Virginia had one of the highest percentage rates of those in the country that faced hunger during these summer months.

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