Child hunger is a serious issue across our state and nation. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, approximately 25% of children in West Virginia experience some sort of food insecurities at some point during the year. One of the most effective ways of combating this problem is bringing food directly to the affected children. You may be familiar with the multiple food nutrition programs that are available to those in need, but you might be surprised at the fact that even with those programs in place, there is still an issue. Not only are West Virginia’s children going hungry during the summer months, when most school-based food programs have ended, but they also are going hungry during the school year. Every weekend and evening, there are a large number of children in our area that will not get enough to eat.
In order to help combat that problem in Monongalia County, where at-risk children make up over 50% of the school-age population, Roark Sizemore, a Morgantown High School grad and current WVU student, joined together with Tom Bloom, Monongalia County Commissioner, Madison Thompson and Josh Watson of the West Virginia University Student Government Association to create Pantry Plus More. Pantry Plus More is a food pantry program that brings food and hygiene products directly to the students through individual food pantries set up at each of the served schools in the district. The food pantries are a permanent fixture within the school and are a more accessible source of food for the students and their families.
“It is wonderful to see students such as Roark involved in a program like this,” Tom Bloom states. “When many kids in our area are getting a bad wrap, he is working hard to make a difference.”
The hard work and dedication Roark has shown to not only Pantry Plus More, but to the community, in general, is why he was selected as this month’s Celebrating Volunteer Award Winner.
“The hard work that Roark and the other volunteers at Pantry Plus More have put into this program is wonderful,” Marisa Matyola of WBOY stated. “Students and their families all across Monongalia County feel the impact of their work and what they offer.”
“Seeing the impact that Roark and Pantry Plus is having on the reduction in child poverty in our region is great,” said Tim Miley, owner of The Miley Legal Group. “I am always impressed to see young people, especially college students, in our area that takes their community service to the next level and creates such a large impact on their environment.”
Pantry Plus More operates out of a warehouse in Westover that feeds directly into multiple school-based food pantries. If you are interested in learning more or donating to the organization, you can visit their website at PantryPlusMore.org.
“We are always looking for food, hygiene products, and volunteers,” states Sizemore. “The more people we get involved, the more kids we can serve.”
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The Celebrating Volunteers awardees receive public recognition for not only themselves but their organization. They also receive a $500 contribution to the organization they represent in their name. Marisa Matyola of WBOY TV and Tim Miley of The Miley Legal Group work together to select the awardees from the many nominations received from the public. The volunteer selected will have demonstrated their commitment to an organization through volunteerism and support.
“I am an avid supporter of volunteerism in our communities,” Miley stated. “The Celebrating Volunteers program is a way that we can recognize the hard work and dedication of individuals across our region.”
We look forward to recognizing a number of worthy individuals while giving their organizations a part of the spotlight. The program will continue recognizing volunteers throughout the coming year. In order to nominate a volunteer to receive this award, please click on the Celebrating Volunteers logo.