Catholic Charities W.Va addresses food deserts

ELIZABETH – The Most Rev. Michael J. Bransfield, bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, will dedicate and bless Catholic Charities West Virginia’s new Mobile Outreach and WellnessWorks Food Pantry 4:30 p.m. Thursday at the St. Elizabeth of Hungary Mission in Elizabeth.

Catholic Charities mobile outreach addresses the needs of the poor and low-income families in a six-county area east of Wood County.

Catholic Charities “is keenly aware of the rural and isolated communities that are spread throughout our state and many are classified as food deserts by the (United States Department of Agriculture),” Mark Sliter-Hays, executive director of Catholic Charities, said. “In our work to fulfill our mission, we developed this Mobile Outreach Program to bring much needed healthy food assistance and offer opportunities for families in these communities to improve their circumstances with information and referrals.”

The two major funding organizations for the Mobile Outreach Program are the Wal-Mart Foundation and the Congregation of St. Joseph’s Generous Promise Grant Fund, which promotes change with a focus on human rights and basic human needs. In addition, support from the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, regional parishes, churches and civic and community leaders have brought this project to fruition.

Catholic Charities West Virginia is a subgrantee of Catholic Charities USA’s grant for Hunger Relief.

The mobile outreach van will travel a six-county area each month and offer consumers a five-day supply of healthy food in accordance with the best practices of Catholic Charities WellnessWorks Food Pantry Program in Calhoun, Roane, Ritchie, Doddridge, Gilmer and Wirt counties.

“The communities and civic leaders have embraced this program and offered support and guidance,” Sliter-Hays said. “We especially appreciate St. Elizabeth of Hungary Mission in Elizabeth who has partnered with us and is providing storage and parking for the program.”

For more information, call Deborah Shaffer, Parkersburg regional director, at or 304-424-3457, ext. 130.