Coalfields’ food banks hit hard by layoffs

By Leslie Rubin - WCHS TV

GILBERT, W.Va. — The trickle down effect of the massive layoffs in the coal fields are felt by ever family and business within miles of a shuttered mine. Now, hundreds of families are showing up at food banks with no where else to turn.

For three hours every Monday, The Store House, in the Gilbert area of Mingo County opens it’s doors. What started out serving just a few dozen families has now turned into something they did not expect. There are now 650 families on their list.

By noon on Monday, volunteers had boxed up weeks worth of food for nearly 100 families.

For Neva McCoy, each box she helps fill, doesn’t just go to a family she knows. The boxes are going to feed her family, and herself.

“It’s more pride than anything else,” McCoy, a lifelong Mingo County resident says. She’s recently divorced and struggling financially but she put aside her pride and asked for help from Pastor Clifford Rawls, who manages the food bank. Now, not only does she get her food for the month here, she volunteers here every week making sure others plates are just as full.

“When you have children, my son has two boys, and there’s nothing wrong with asking for help, if you need it and you’re desperate,” she says, noting that her son come to the food bank for help as well.

Workers say the line for food often stretches out of the front door. The stories of what brought them here are all much the same.

They are coal miners and they are out of work.

“They’ll be people, actually tears running down their faces, who never thought they would have to come to a place like this to get food for their families. It breaks your heart. You know these men, and you know what hard workers they are,” says Rawls, a former miner himself. He now pastors at Reachout Community Church.

His wife, Barbara, works the front desk. She checks in the families and makes sure they get the help they came for. She points out that her file cabinet of 650 families is made up of anywhere from two to more than a dozen people a family.

“We had one gentleman that came in and said, ‘I’m not asking, I’m begging for help.’ That’s the kind that, you know, they need it. You know them personally. You want to reach out to them,” she says.

A need that’s greater than ever in the southern West Virginia coalfields.

If you would like to make a food or monetary donation, The Store House, is located at the old Gilbert West Virginia State Police detachment beside of Gilbert High School. The phone number is 304-664-3303.

By Leslie Rubin


WCHS and WVAH News provided this story through a partnership with the Logan Banner. Online:

WCHS and WVAH News provided this story through a partnership with the Logan Banner. Online:

comments powered by Disqus