By Aila Boyd
Feeding Southwest Virginia held a community roundtable for Hunger Action Day Sept. 22 at its distribution center and administrative offices in Salem.
During the event, the organization’s new mission was discussed. The mission now reads: “Nourish neighbors. Engage community partners. Develop solutions to address food insecurity.”
The roundtable was led by Pamela Irvine, president and CEO of Feeding Southwest Virginia. The conversation focused on the three components of the new mission.
Representatives from Kroger, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Voices of Faith, Beth Israel Roanoke, St. Marks Lutheran Church of Roanoke, Carilion Clinic, Local Environmental Agriculture Project, Carter Bank and Trust, Rescue Mission of Roanoke, Goodwill Industries of the Valleys, Presbyterian Community Center, United Way of Roanoke Valley and Vinton-Roanoke Area Agape Center.
The representatives discussed the ways they go about serving their various communities and the ways they engage with Feeding Southwest Virginia.
Those present also talked about how they can collaborate on different projects and initiatives.
Irvine specifically asked those present what reducing food insecurity looks like to them. She noted an issue that is on her radar is the “benefits cliff,” meaning once someone makes a certain amount of money their benefits are greatly reduced or eliminated.
“If they make a little bit more, they lose their benefits. One of the things we believe is going to be key in anybody’s success in transferring from public benefits to feeding their own family and having financial security is going to be additional resources during that transition, not a decrease in resources,” she said. “That’s a policy thing we’ve been working on for a number of years.”
Elected officials and their staff members were also present, including Roanoke City Councilman Joe Cobb, Del. Joe McNamara, a representative for Sen. Tim Kaine, a representative for Del. Chris Head and a representative for state Sen. David Sutterlein.
“We are so grateful for Feeding Southwest Virginia and the partnerships we have. You all were extraordinary partners during COVID, making sure our schools and kids and families had access to food,” Cobb said.
McNamara encouraged the representatives to come to him and other officials with specific policy asks.
Prior to the roundtable, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints donated 40,000 pounds of food to Feeding Southwest Virginia.
“Our 41-year history has taught us a thing or two about change,” James Pearman, board chair of Feeding Southwest Virginia, said in a brochure that outlines the new mission that was given out during the roundtable. “As our communities and the world around us change, we are prompted to respond with innovative and dynamic strategies to serve our neighbors well.”
The organization covers a region that consists of 26 counties and nine cities, including Craig County.