Mountaineer Food Bank is partnering with DoorDash to home-deliver groceries to Mercer County’s neediest families. The pilot program is one of a handful across the country to receive a $100,000 dollar grant from Save the Children’s Rural Child Hunger Research and Innovation Lab to tackle rural hunger.
One in six West Virginia kids struggles with an empty stomach every day, according to Feeding America.
Gabriela Schoolcraft, communications coordinator for Mountaineer Food Bank, explained most families in the state’s rural counties do not have a vehicle or are limited by fuel costs. She added the program, which begins this year, will initially serve 200 families.
“We’ll get the foods in Mercer County and DoorDash will meet us at a pickup location,” Schoolcraft said. “And we’ll deliver the food to families that need it within the county. “
Schoolcraft said the food bank worked with the Mercer County Board of Education to determine which families would benefit the most. She added DoorDash drivers will be paid for their deliveries, and called it a win-win to increase job security in the region while helping families.
Schoolcraft said the food boxes will be tailored to individuals’ household circumstances, noting that many families lack the resources to cook meals from scratch.
“For example, some families only have a microwave,” she said. “So if that’s the case, we’ll only provide foods that are microwave centered, but they’ll also receive fresh produce and proteins and dairies.”
Esther Liew, the Lead Associate for Food Security Projects with Save the Children, said solutions to stop child hunger must come from within rural communities.
“What we’re hoping is that they will be able to develop ways of working that maybe look a little bit different from how these similar types of programs would work in urban settings, Liew said. “So that we can help them to develop solutions that are specifically for rural contexts.”
A recent survey by Save the Children and the Child Action Network found 77% of rural parents say they are worried they might not be able to afford enough food to feed their family.