In Roanoke City alone, there are approximately 16,500 individuals that are considered “food insecure”. In Montgomery County, there are approximately 14,030 individuals that also share the status of being food insecure.
Food Insecurity means that an individual either qualifies for SNAP, Federal Nutrition Programs, or are at risk for needing one of these programs due to limited income and limited access to food. It means that these folks are in danger of not being able to continually afford the average meal cost in their area. In Roanoke, the average meal cost is $2.39. (www.feedingamerica.org/mapthegap)
Feeding Southwest Virginia
Feeding America Southwest Virginia is an affiliate member of the national nonprofit organization, Feeding America. Their mission is to feed America’s hungry through a nationwide network of member food banks and engage our country in the fight to end hunger, including our own Southwest Virginia. They benefit from the incredible generosity of local individuals, groups, and businesses in the area that recognizes the importance of providing nourishment to their neighbors in need. But even with the support of a charitable community, they face many challenges.
For example, in order for FASWVA to close the “meal gap” in just Roanoke City and Montgomery County, they would need to gather and distribute over 5 million pounds of food. This is just a small portion of the footprint that Feeding America Southwest Virginia seeks to support in our region. They cover 29 counties and 9 cities in Southwest Virginia, spanning from the Alleghany Highlands all the way to the tip of the state in Lee County.
Because of the massive span of land that the organization seeks to serve, Feeding America Southwest Virginia is faced with many challenges. As some areas in the region recover economically, others continue to suffer. The coalfield areas of Southwest Virginia remain as the hardest hit by the economic downturn. Food bank trucks must travel long distances and cross treacherous mountain roads to reach these people in needs, providing extensive wear and tear on their fleet. That’s why they depend on the community so heavily.
As a community bank dedicated to uplifting organizations that serve the needs of local citizens, we were happy to find financing solutions that would help this incredible organization continue their work in closing the hunger gap in the areas we serve and beyond. Based on a new array of needs, including capital needs to supplement growth and long-term financing of their Salem facility, Feeding America Southwest Virginia sought out services from HomeTown Bank through loan officer, Peter Jessee, in March of 2017.
“Loan officer, Peter Jessee, was very responsive and showed a great deal of interest in our business and our growth opportunities. We have been very pleased since the move.” – says David Argabright, Chief Financial Officer
Hunger Action Month
The month of September was declared Hunger Action Month to inspire organizations and individuals to take charge in the effort to end hunger. Each year, Feeding America chapters, local food banks, local food pantries, large food service companies, and food manufacturing organizations work alongside their communities to promote awareness of the growing need for food supply to close the “meal gap” across the country.
As we near the end of the month, we’d like to help recap activities that have helped Feeding America Southwest Virginia and help you discover ways you can keep supporting the fight to end hunger year round:
If you visit any of FASWVA’s social media pages, it won’t be hard to see the overwhelming support that the community has poured into Hunger Action Month in Southwest Virginia. You can spot staff and volunteers donning orange, the official color of hunger action month..
You’ll see people’s hunger plates where they explore the effects of hunger on an individuals’ daily life. Each person identified something they CAN do on an empty stomach and something they CAN’T do on an empty stomach on their own paper plate as a reminder to us all about what it feels like to be hungry. Local elected officials even got into gear by bagging lunches, with food provided by Food Lion Feeds, at a Roanoke City School and actually broke the Guinness World Record title for “Most Bagged Lunches Made in One Hour!”
But the month isn’t over yet and the grand finale is coming this Friday at the Vinton Farmer’s Market. Feeding America Southwest Virginia will host the first annual Food Truck Fest, presented by Food Lion Feeds on Friday, September 29, from 5 to 9 PM. Here, attendees will find a wide variety of local food trucks, beer, live music, and kids activities. The best part? While you enjoy your community event, funds are going to support Feeding America Southwest Virginia in feeding your neighbors in need.
How to Help Year-Round
Hunger does not cease to be an issue and cause on October 1. There are plenty of ways to support the local efforts to close the hunger gap with Feeding America Southwest Virginia on any day of the year. Monetary donations and dry foods are accepted year round. Donating funds is simple and easy through their website at www.faswva.org/donate. Every $1 donated helps provide 7 meals worth of food. Non-perishable food donations are always helpful, too. You can donate any time you see Feeding America SWVA at an event or see a bin at your local grocery store. You can also visit their facility on Electric Road in Salem to donate as well. Some of the most needed items include canned meats, canned veggies, peanut butter, cereals, rice, dry beans, pasta and pop-top fruits and veggies.
Here at HomeTown Bank, we are passionate about seeking new ways to help our community. As Hunger Action Month comes to a close, we are using our voice to remind our fellow citizens of Southwest Virginia that contributing to your local community and the organizations that help it flourish is something you can do anytime, any day.