Feeding Southwest Virginia marks 40th anniversary fighting food insecurity

Wells Fargo Tower in downtown Roanoke lit up orange and green in the organization’s honor

A local organization is celebrating 40 years of work and full stomachs.

ROANOKE COUNTY, VA. – A local organization is celebrating 40 years of good work and full stomachs in our region.

Feeding Southwest Virginia has been a lifeline to many, especially this past year with the pandemic. And the Roanoke skyline is lighting up to celebrate the milestone.

The clouds amplified the glow of orange and green atop the Wells Fargo Tower in downtown Roanoke Thursday night. Feeding Southwest Virginia president Pamela Irvine said it’s hard to believe they’ve been at it for 40 years.

“We distribute anywhere between 26 and 30 million dollars worth of food a year to 300 and sixty-some programs but together we feed over 100,000 individuals every month,” Irvine said.

The foodbank is a backbone in the community, and likewise, the community has supported the foodbank in spades. It’s hard to pick one defining moment, but when things go south Feeding Southwest Virginia is always there to help make sure no one goes hungry.

“It’s been a long journey, the twenty-six counties we serve economically have been very challenged since 2008 and continue to be challenged,” Irvine said.

That resiliency will be highlighted in an episode of the show “Buzz” on Blue Ridge PBS as local creatives donate their time and efforts to help the non-profit mark its anniversary. Show creator Michael Hemphill made the request to light the tower and said featuring Feeding Southwest Virginia in the show is a no-brainer.

“They have been just at the forefront of our work, our community’s efforts fighting hunger, especially with more and more families being impacted by that,” Hemphill said.

While Irvine can’t predict the future, she does know Feeding Southwest Virginia will continue to be needed. The way they go about their work continues to evolve, but the work itself isn’t changing.

“I believe that there’s enough food in this country alone to be able to provide food to every individual who struggles, to have adequate food supplies,” Irvine said.

Irvine added that staff is planning a picnic to celebrate, but it won’t be until later this year when pandemic restrictions are over.