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Feeding Southwest Virginia Marks 40 Years

Feeding Southwest Virginia Friday celebrated 40 years of providing food to hungry families. On hand in Salem was Gov. Ralph Northam, and the head of the agency’s parent organization, Feeding America.

Feeding Southwest Virginia 40th Anniversary

Feeding America CEO, Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, told the group of donors, staffers and volunteers that the work they do is something all folks can agree on. "That people who call themselves Independents Republicans and Democrats agree with, that in this country, the greatest country in the history of civilization, no one should go to bed hungry."

Babineaux-Fontenot said that 60 million people got help last year, from food banks and pantries. That was up 50 percent from the year before, because of the COVID-recession. But a new federal report out this week says the overall rate of hunger in America in 2020 didn’t change from the year before.

The most likely reasons: the six billion meals charities provided, along with expansion of federal food and nutrition programs. Food insecurity did go up for Blacks, Latinos and people living in the South.

Governor Northam praised Feeding Southwest Virginia executive director Pamela Irvine for her leadership, and all of the organization’s supporters. "Together we have made great progress to feed more Virginians and to take steps to provide families with access to the food and the benefits that they need." Benefits that many families may need even more for a while, now that extended federal jobless aid has ended.