BUCKHANNON – Going to the grocery store shopping lately has left many of us with ‘sticker shock’ as the prices of foods have increased dramatically.
This has caused a noticeable growth in the needs the Upshur Parish House strives to fulfill for neighbors in need. In fact, Upshur Parish House Executive Director Kristi Wilkerson said when distributing the 2022 Thanksgiving and Holiday Food Boxes, the requests for help grew significantly – more than 25 percent.
“Around September 2022, the Parish House started to be much busier,” Wilkerson shared. “When we did the Thanksgiving and Christmas Food Boxes, we were overwhelmed by the number of requests for assistance.”
Wilkerson said the Holiday Food Box need was 25 percent more than in previous years. She said the Upshur Parish House usually distributes 650 Thanksgiving Food Boxes, but in 2022 they filled requests for more than 800, and while it usually distributes 600 Holiday Food Boxes, that number climbed to more than 700.
“There is great need, and we have lots of requests for assistance,” Wilkerson said. “I wanted to share that demand growth with the community. Everybody knows that groceries are more expensive now. We are fortunate to have a lot of very generous donors who helped us meet the needs of our neighbors in need.”
Wilkerson said not only is the increase in food prices creating more need among neighbors, but also, beginning March 1, 2023, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program funds, or SNAP funds, distributed to many folks will be decreased.
According to a press release from the West Virginia Department of Health & Human Resources in Jan. 2023, SNAP program benefits provided through the COVID-19 SNAP Emergency Allotment will end in February 2023 due to the funding being discontinued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The release said March 1, 2023, SNAP benefits will return to the pre-COVID-19 Public Health Emergency level and will again be based on the household’s income, assets, household size and other non-financial factors.
“I just wanted to highlight to our community how much need there is,” Wilkerson shared. “We are seeing more homeless folks coming to us for assistance. I feel like the shift started in Sept. 2022.”
The Upshur Parish House is beginning to gather items for its Easter Food Box distribution and wanted residents to know how they can help neighbors in need. Wilkerson said the main need is boxes or bags of instant mashed potatoes, cans of pork and beans, canned vegetables, boxed macaroni and cheese and boxed brownie mixes without nuts. They hope to collect those items by March 24, 2023.
“Distribution of the Easter Food Boxes will begin Saturday, April 1, 2023, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.,” Wilkerson said. “On Monday, April 3, through Wednesday, April 5, distribution of Easter Food Boxes will be from 9:30 a.m. through 12:30 p.m. The Saturday distribution will be curbside. During the Monday through Wednesday distribution, neighbors must come into the Upshur Parish House to receive their food boxes.”
Wilkerson said the guidelines for Easter Food Boxes are based on income, and only one member per household may receive an Easter Food Box. Those applying for Easter Food Boxes through the Upshur Parish House must be residents of Upshur County.
The Upshur Parish House is located at 68 College Avenue in Buckhannon and is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Mondays through Fridays. Additional information about the Upshur Parish House is available on their Facebook page or by calling 304-472-0743.