This year, 2023, is the food bank’s 40th year of operation. The place the food bank started from — size, staffing, reach,
and resources — is very different from where we are today. But those 40 years have been valuable in every respect of our
work, and those years have focused on the same goals we have today: providing the right food to the right people at the
The other component that has been present over these last 40 years is the desire to grow to meet the needs of the
communities at the center of our work. Initially, the food bank only served Cabell County, then part of Wayne County …
and the first year of distributions totaled about 300,000 pounds of food, equating to 250,000 meals.
Now, we have 17 counties in three states (12 West Virginia counties; four Kentucky counties; and Lawrence County,
Ohio). In completing our work, we engage with three USDA districts (Mid-Atlantic, Southeast, and Midwest), and we are
the only food bank in the Feeding America network of 200 food banks that can say that!
In comparison of food distributed, since the start of the pandemic, Facing Hunger has distributed over 30 million
pounds of food (equating to 25,000,000 meals). The number of lives we touched then was a few thousand, and now we
have 130,000 neighbors in need across West Virginia, Ohio, and Kentucky. Moreover, we serve 42% of the West Virginians
in need in 12 counties.
We have added school partnerships and serve just under 5,000 children a week … from a program that started in 2012
with under 1,000 children. We looked around and saw that our most vulnerable neighbors — our seniors — needed our
support. So, in 2017, finding out that West Virginia was third from last to get the USDA Commodity Supplemental Food
Program, we applied, and from a start of a few hundred program participants across the state, we now have 10,000 in
West Virginia and almost 1,000 in Kentucky. Because we live in the communities we serve, we also know that health care
concerns and social determinants of health go hand in hand with how we do our work. In 2017, we initiated our Medically
Indicated Food Box program to address dietary support for our neighbors with diabetes and other chronic diseases. The
MIFB program allows them to have adequate and nutritious foods to support better self-management of their conditions,
decreasing health care visits and costs of medicines.
What do the next 40 years hold?
I can’t imagine what we will be doing or how we will be doing it then, but here are some things that WILL happen
THIS year to celebrate growth and innovation:
• We will be expanding the main warehouse in Huntington to DOUBLE the space we have now, from 26,000 square
feet to over 52,000 square feet.
• The Huntington facility will have a full-time, on-site food pantry that will feature a teaching kitchen and technology
to let participants from our entire service area participate in nutrition education and learn how to cook the food
resources they receive in ways that are tasty AND healthy.
• We will also open our distribution center in Mingo County. This warehouse is a 55,000-square-foot facility that will
hold the food bank operations as well as shared workspace for agriculture procurement, processing, and distribution.
• All of these expansions will be supported by an additional 30 positions based on Recovery workforce development.
These new workers will be provided training and additional support through Service Access Coordinators, who will
assist with career development, educational pursuits, housing, and other social determinants of health.
• And, finally, we will work to ensure that everyone who would benefit from medically tailored food boxes can get
them without our securing grant funding. Because everyone deserves access to healthy foods and the opportunity to
live an active, high-quality life.
Please consider joining in our work and our growth through your donation of time, talent, and treasure …