By Bobby Bordelon
Food distribution to Greenbrier County students has been centralized into Greenbrier East High School under the direction of the Greater Greenbrier Long Term Recovery Committee (GGLTRC). Volunteers, the National Guard, and local organizers gathered with special precautions in order to get food out to children who need it.
"We will continue this program until we can't anymore," explained GGLTRC Director Kayla McCoy. "We are committed to feeding the school children of Greenbrier County because we recognize that so many of these households rely on the school system for two meals a day. We are doing our very best to meet that need for as long as we can."
With food provided from Greenbrier County Schools and donations, volunteers prepared hundreds of bags with both breakfast and lunch. McCoy explained the new, county-level coordination will result with approximately identical meals delivered, rather than varying school-to-school.
"Last week when the individual schools were doing it, [the meals] would have been different, but this week, it's all out of this one kitchen and they're all as close to identical as we can make them with what product is available. ... We are following, as closely as we can, the guidelines established by the office of child nutrition. Since these bags are breakfast and lunch, they contain two to three servings of fruits and vegetables, two servings of grains, one serving of protein, two servings of dairy," McCoy said.
Trying to follow nutrition standards, meal preparation and planning has taken a few unexpected turns before delivery begins on Monday.
"We've had to get creative with what we serve – the milk truck crashed on I-64 on its way here, so we only had ... about 12 milk cartons worth of the individual milk, so some of the dairies [are] yogurt, cheese sticks," McCoy explained. "We're just doing what we can to get it out the door.
The current plan also includes a special delivery for Wednesday, which should provide enough food through the following Sunday.
"On Wednesday, when we send out the multipack, we're going to be looking at things like sending a pack of PopTarts, a whole box, sending like five things of cereal," McCoy said. "We may have an executive pastry chef coming to make a bunch of pepperoni rolls ... because we've got pepperoni, we've got cheese, we've got flour. We've got so many tomatoes that need to become sauce because there's no way [kids] are going to [eat just a tomato]. We've got to cook em down."
As McCoy answered questions, a Greenbrier County resident approached and asked where she could pick up food and how to continually be added to the list. McCoy explained that the best way to be added each day is to find the link to fill out a form on the Greenbrier County Schools Facebook page.
"Please, please, go online and fill out the form – I've only got two people who are tracking the data for that phone line," McCoy explained to the resident. "They can't call people back. ... It's much easier for us if you can do it through the form. It's super simple, it just asks for how many kids in the house, how many meals, what your location is, [and] if you need pick up or delivery. It's super easy, its the most low tech it could possibly be."
"Greenbrier County Schools students can request a meal by 2 p.m. the day before the meal is needed by submitting an online form at http://ow.ly/aHqC50yT4Fm," reads the Facebook post from Greenbrier County Schools. "Online requests preferred. Those without internet access can leave a message at 304-968-9519. The online form and hotline close at 7 p.m. daily."
McCoy also thanked The Greenbrier for a large food donation, encouraging other local food distributors to take advantage of it.
"We received a $14,000 food donation from The Greenbrier Resort. We went yesterday and loaded the box truck with some of that. There's still some over there. That donation is available to Greenbrier County Schools, Pocahontas County Schools, Monroe County Schools, and to any feeding program that's feeding seniors in those counties as well. It is so much, it is way more than we are going to be able to process on our own, so I would really encourage anyone who is running a feeding program to contact Long Term Recovery Committee."
McCoy noted Long Term Recovery was paying special attention to the press conferences given by Governor Jim Justice, viewable by going to Youtube.com and searching for the page "Governor Jim Justice."
"The governor has a press conference [today] that could drastically alter what we do here next week," McCoy said. "It could drastically alter what we do here tomorrow or Wednesday. We have to take it one day at a time – we are receiving continual guidance from the governor of West Virginia and his press conferences and we are listening to our county health department. ... Ahead of every press conference the governor does all the rumors are circulating about what it's going to consist of that day. The rumors are never accurate, you never know what guidance is going to come down because the state of West Virginia is just taking this day by day. No one is an expert, we're all just learning on our feet."
"Meals can be picked up Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday from 12 to 1 p.m. at one of our 13 schools or one of the following community sites: Alvon UMC, Williamsburg Community Center, Renick Fire Hall, or MARVEL Center," Greenbrier County Schools social media reads. "Wednesday meal includes enough food to get through Sunday. Delivery available."