SALEM, Va. – On Friday, Feeding Southwest Virginia received a massive donation of 30,000 pounds of protein from Smithfield Foods.
As part of the Commonwealth Clash rivalry games between the University of Virginia and Virginia Tech, the two schools put aside their differences to work with Smithfield to help their hometowns.
Virginia Tech legend Bud Foster said it’s an honor.
“For these two universities to come together for a bigger cause to support the people and food insecurities, I think, makes a big-time statement,” said Foster.
This donation comes as families across Virginia are set to lose extra food benefits given out during the pandemic. Starting March 1, those extra SNAP benefits will expire. That means people will have at least $95 less a month to buy food.
“A lot of those families don’t have a lot of opportunities for additional funds,” said Pamela Irvine, president and CEO of Feeding Southwest Virginia.
Irvine said the change will be especially tough on those with fixed incomes, like seniors.
“We’re trying to prepare to meet that need,” said Irvine. “So this is very challenging right now.”
This part of the Commonwealth already has a greater need for food. About 7.7% of Virginians are food insecure. In Southwest Virginia, over 19% of families are food insecure in four counties the food bank serves.
Though it’s not just families who are struggling, donations to Feeding Southwest Virginia are down 16%. This time last year, the warehouse was full. Now, it’s filled with empty shelves.
“Just like a lot of our neighbors struggling to find food, we are struggling to find food as well,” said Irvine. “So this donation is critical.”
The food bank supplies over 300 local food pantries and programs. With uncertainty ahead, Irvine said they’re turning to the community.
“My plea to the community is this: everyone can help,” said Irvine.