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Communities in Southern West Virginia worked to feed kids Monday, the first day schools were closed in an effort to slow the potential spread of the coronavirus.
About 178,000 students in the state rely on free or reduced price meals, with many concentrated in the southern region of the state. According to the West Virginia Department of Education Office of Nutrition, free meals are being offered at more than 500 sites throughout the state during temporary school closures, with some meals being deliverd directly through regular bus routes.
A variety of local businesses, including stores owned by Little General, have said they are offering food throughout the week. For example, in Boone County the local Taco Bell and V-mart provided kids with free lunch.
The Five Loaves and Two Fishes Food Bank in McDowell County saw 30 food requests within one hour, requesting snacks for kids, said Linda McKinney who runs the organization.
“I go through this caller ID [and] it’s people that want snacks,”she said. “This one lady I’m looking at right now she has nine people in her home.”
Five Loaves and Two Fishes food pantry will be serving food by appointment only to minimize group gatherings.
The Facing Hunger Foodbank based in Huntington has a backpack program that serves students food in 12 southern West Virginia counties. Executive Director Cynthia Kirkhart said they are still delivering to schools, but are prepared to deliver directly to students in the coming days.
This story is part of West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Southern Coalfields Reporting Project which is supported by a grant from the National Coal Heritage Area Authority.