Jun. 7, 2024 |
by Beth Sparks

Food Pantry: Helping Fund the Need

With the food and supply pantry at the St. Mary’s Center for Education (CFE) marking its fifth anniversary in the fall of 2024, the St. Mary’s Medical Center Foundation has partnered with the Dutch Miller Auto Group to help “Fund the Need.” This campaign is designed to raise awareness and support of the pantry, which supplies food, personal care items, and diapers and other baby necessities to students in the Schools of Nursing, Respiratory Care, or Radiology. Keeping the pantry stocked helps alleviate the stress faced by students from low-income backgrounds or other modest circumstances, ensuring they can remain in school and focus on their studies.

Even a little helps a lot: each gift of $10 supplies three meals. Statistics from Feeding America show that 12.7% of persons (nearly 12,000) living in Cabell County are food insecure. That reflects statewide statistics, with one in nine West Virginia residents facing hunger, a condition affecting one in every seven children.

Vice President of the Schools of Nursing and Health Professions Dr. Joey Trader and other leaders at St. Mary’s CFE launched the project after a student asked him why they were required to do community service.

“We tell them as professionals and human beings it’s always better to give back to people and serve your community,” Trader said. “After putting out a request to help another agency, one student came to me and said, ‘Sometimes, the needy are right under your nose.’”

That’s when he learned this single mother was struggling to put food on the table. Not only did Trader and another executive help her get some food, as well as shoes and clothing so her child could have supplies for the new school year, they asked for help from other faculty members and the pantry came to life.

“Being able to do this makes your heart feel good,” said Heather Streets, part of the 2023-24 student group that coordinated restocking. “It’s an intrinsic reward. This is all part of being a nurse. It’s so much more than passing out meds and checking charts. It’s about caring for people as individuals.”