By Colleen Rowan
Catholic News Service
WHEELING, W.Va. – Two food pantries in West Virginia received a donation that went a long way in putting food on their clients’ tables.
First Fruits Farm of Freeland, Maryland, donated 24 tons of fresh potatoes to pantries in the statewide Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. Half went to the Five Loaves, Two Fishes Food Bank in Kimball and half to Catholic Charities West Virginia in Webster Springs.
Kimball is located in McDowell County, one of West Virginia’s poorest areas, and the food pantry there is dedicated to serving the people most in need, said Linda McKinney, manager of the food pantry.
“It was a total surprise,” McKinney said about the donation, which came in Oct. 25. “This time of the year, it’s a blessing to receive that type of food. … That’s probably the largest donation we have ever received. … If we have this type of food, we can feed anywhere from 1,800 to 2,800 a month. Our average is 1,200 a month.”
On Nov. 25, the food bank distributed the potatoes with a donation of white navy beans. Each client received a bag of potatoes and beans.
“We will open up around noon, and we will stay there until people stop coming,” McKinney said a few days before the distribution. The remaining potatoes were available on the food bank’s regular distribution day, Saturday.
The Five Loaves, Two Fishes Food Bank has been in operation since 2009. In addition to food, the organization provides clothing and programs for children.
“We had 12 tons of potatoes distributed within six hours,” said Tina Cogar, Catholic Charities West Virginia outreach coordinator in Webster Springs.
“I will be forever grateful to First Fruits Farm and everyone involved in getting the potatoes to Webster County. It was a blessing that will be remembered for months,” she told The Catholic Spirit, newspaper of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. “Every time someone goes to their pantry and pulls out potatoes, thankfulness will fill their hearts.”
Catholic Charities’ Webster Springs office offers the Wellness Works Food Pantry, a thrift store and emergency assistance as well as programs for children throughout the year, such as providing Christmas gifts and back to school items.
Co-founded in 1998 by Rick and Carol Bernstein, First Fruits Farm is a non-profit Christian ministry dedicated to providing fresh, nutritious produce to those experiencing hunger in the Mid-Atlantic region.
“We’re all about growing food and giving it away in Jesus’ name,” Rick said. “So when we heard of the struggles in West Virginia and we had this nice crop of potatoes, we thought what better way to model the love of Christ than to send the potatoes to people who are hungry and hurting?”
The donation to West Virginia came about through a partnership with First Fruits Farm, the Archdiocese of Baltimore and the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.
Copyright ©2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.