One in six people in Southwest Virginia struggles to put food on the table every day.

It’s a sobering statistic, especially during the holiday season – a time of year many people associate with decadent meals and overflowing refrigerators.

It’s more than a statistic for Pamela Irvine who comes face to face with hungry adults and children every day. Irvine is the president and chief executive officer for Feeding America Southwest Virginia, an organization that provides low-income individuals and families with the fuel to survive and even thrive. Feeding America member food banks supply food to more than 37 million Americans each year, including 14 million children and three million seniors.

Feeding America Southwest Virginia food line
Community members line up and wait to receive donated food at a Feeding America Southwest Virginia distribution site.

“Working here was deepened my faith in people and shown me that the miraculous can happen if you put in the work. It has also shown me that it is not easy feeding people,” said Irvine. 

In 2012, 67 Virginia Tech employees donated more than $11,000 directly to Feeding America Southwest Virginia through the annual Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign(CVC).

For every $1 donated, the food bank distributes $9 of food, enough to provide three meals for a family of four.

 The success of the organization, according to Irvine, depends on everyone taking part and investing their blood, sweat, and tears.

Virginia Tech employees are helping by donating through the CVC and through several other collaborative efforts.

In the past, Virginia Tech has worked with Feeding American Southwest Virginia to create the Hokies Against Hunger fund, as well as several other projects. Additionally, through a partnership with Virginia Cooperative Extension's Family Nutrition Program, Feeding America Southwest Virginia provides nutrition knowledge and food preparation skills outreach to food bank partner agencies and their clients.

Feeding America Southwest Virginia truck
Mobile foods trucks are used to distribute food to some of the most rural areas in Southwest Virginia where people don’t have substantial access to food pantries. The truck serves 200-400 people each time it goes out.

Last year, the organization’s food bank provided 16.9 million pounds of food, provided 41,199 households a month with groceries, and served 2.6 million on-site meals. Their responsibilities include locating, securing, storing, and transporting large quantities of donated food, distributing the food to the less fortunate at food pantries, soup kitchens, emergency shelters, elderly care programs, after-school programs etc., and reducing the cost of feeding the hungry.

Please consider donating to any of the 1,000 charities participating in this year’s Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign. The online CVC Pledge System enables salaried Virginia Tech employees to make fast, easy, and secure donations via payroll deduction. All donations are tax deductible, as allowed by law.

First published on November 11, 2013.

Written by Nadia Groome, a junior majoring in communications at Virginia Tech

Feeding America Southwest Virginia

  • Distributes more than 17 million pounds of food annually
  • Supplies 417 partner agency feeding programs with food for the hungry
  • Serves 26 counties and 10 cities in Southwest Virginia.
  • Provides food for over 122,000 hungry people every month.
  • Oversees 136 Children's Feeding Sites, including Backpack Programs.
  • Provides enough food for Children's Programs to serve approximately 724,926 meals and snacks annually.