Senior center concerned with possible food bank shut down

POCAHONTAS, W.Va. — The possible closing of the Mountaineer Food Bank in Gassaway concerned the Pocahontas County Senior Citizens Center Thursday. PCSC struggled to meet service demands from MFB due to reduced state funding.

The Pocahontas County Meals on Wheels relies heavily on its partnership with the Mountaineer Food Bank, but with the recent staff cutbacks, PCSC Executive Director John Simmons scratched his head as to why MFB is scaling back.

According to the PCSC, the Marlinton PCSC Meals on Wheels Program obtained 4442 pounds of food for a cost of $434.66 in January and February. Without this avenue of obtaining low cost foods PCSC would be unable to serve at the current level.

The Marlinton Center currently serves 45 home bound seniors. The meal route takes 6 and a half hours and is 122 miles long on rural one lane roads. The Marlinton Center serves southern and central Pocahontas County. PCSC has another site in Green Bank that serves Northern Pocahontas County.

Simmons said he had serious concerns for the possible shutdown because it will effect PCSC in a big way.

“Without this Mountaineer Food Bank, I don’t know if we could survive to tell you the truth,” said Simmons.

Simmons said they are preparing for the worst, so they are looking over budget costs. He estimated the PCSC receives nearly $1,500 a month in food from MFB that they would have to re-purchase if the company shuts down. He said he’s unsure if MFB can pull through their financial situation because it would devastate many West Virginia counties.

“If Mountaineer can’t pick that food up from Kroger or Wal-Mart, because they don’t have the drivers or the money, they’re liable to start donating that to some other food bank. It could create a real problem and lose in the donator product to somebody else,” said Simmons.

Simmons said the 2015 March for Meals Campaign they are coordinating might be one of the determining factors of whether they will be able to keep the doors open it 2016 since the talks of a possible MFB shutdown is occurring.

Simmons said they have to rely on a number of fundraisers to keep PCSC up and running. He took the issue up with Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, encouraging him to provide emergency money for the time being.

“It’s absolutely too important to the state of West Virginia to lose that Mountaineer Food Bank,” said Simmons.

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