Community partners and leaders come together for Hunger Summit

Published: Mar. 23, 2023 at 5:10 PM EDT
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SALEM, Va. (WDBJ) - Feeding Southwest Virginia hosted a round table discussion about hunger Thursday morning. Community leaders and organizations are trying to find ways to help feed the community.

After the pandemic, Plenty, a food pantry in Floyd, was preparing for the need to go down. But instead, leaders say it increased by 40%.

“Everyone is focused on not just making sure people have enough to eat, but the food is of high quality,” said Plenty Executive Director Nancy Tome.

Tome says a 2-year survey revealed inflation, rising rents, fixed income, and disabilities were reasons people needed food. She recalls meeting a mother who couldn’t afford to buy food after filling her gas tank during the summer.

“Because of just the increase in gas prices in order for her to keep her job, she had to choose between filling up her tank to get back and forth from her job or buying groceries for her family,” explained Tome.

Tome was one of the community partners who attended a hunger summit at Feeding Southwest Virginia.

“I think we’re finding, and we already knew this, that we’re doing a lot. But also, that we’re not coordinating as well as we could,” said Feeding Southwest Virginia CEO & President Pamela Irvine.

City leaders Trish White Boyd and Joe Cobb were present. Cobb says they are trying to find ways the city can provide resources.

“We can help connect some of the dots. We can work as a city with other local governments to build the support system, the support network,” explained Cobb.

Households are no longer receiving emergency SNAP funds to help navigate the pandemic. Tome says they’ve helped an additional 10 families since the end of the extra funding.

“They were able to meet the grocery needs with the supplemental benefits and now they’re starting to come back,” added Tome. “We’re going to feel that impact all throughout our communities.”

But they’re hoping event like the Hunger Summit helps them expand support for families by working together.