PRESIDING TODAY IS: PJ Margelis, Advisory Board Member

bellDing! We’re now in session.

Welcome all – Visitors, fellow Rotarians and guests alike to this E-Club program!

Remember the smiling pot. Donations to our E-Club help support our service projects.

We’d like to respectfully remind all visitors that if they would like to contribute the normal cost of a meal for your makeup, we would be grateful. These funds go directly to our many and varied service projects around the world. You can make a contribution in the Donation box on the homepage. Or you can write a check to:  Rotary E-Club of District 7530 and mail it to Treasurer MSRE, 115 Hoffman Avenue, Morgantown, WV 26505.

Four-Way Test

At the beginning of each meeting we remind ourselves of the The Four-Way Test.  Therefore, please remember to ask yourself always . . .

Of the things we think, say or do:

  1. Is it the TRUTH?
  2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?
  4. Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

A Reflective Moment

“If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one."
                                                                      --Mother Teresa


A Light Moment

"The only time to eat diet food is while you're waiting for the steak to cook."
                                                              --Julia Child

New Feature!  

MSRE-Club Member Spotlight: Introducing Leela Raju, MD

We hope you'll enjoy this new program feature, intended to help our dispersed E-Club members get to know each other.  (If you've not yet done so, please send a brief bio, a photo and, if possible, a "fun fact" about yourself to our club president at mtnstateerotary@gmail.com. Or feel free to send a brief video instead!)

After growing up in Morgantown, Dr. Raju completed college at Brown University and medical school at Marshall University. She served as ophthalmology faculty at the University of Pittsburgh before her present position at New York University. She has a strong interest in preventive and children's eye care in WV and internationally.  

Our E-Club Meeting Topic:  Backpack Programs, Food Insecurity & Rotary 

According to Merriam-Webster, food insecurity is defined as the inability to "consistently access or afford adequate food." This definition, however, does not do this problem adequate justice.  
According to the Mountaineer Food Bank, West Virginia alone suffers from a food insecurity rate of 15.3%. According to Mountaineer Food Bank's website, 37 counties are classified as either at-risk or distressed. These counties rank in the worst 25% of the nation's counties according to economic status indicators.
As one might imagine, poverty is the #1 influence on food security and hunger, and many families struggle to access healthy, nutritious foods. These families live day to day, and often have to make a choice between healthy foods and living expenses.  One in six people in the state will visit a food pantry, soup kitchen or other feeding program. 
These are sobering statistics; however, there are organizations around the country that help with this often unrecognized problem. One such organization is the Scott's Run Settlement House (“SRSH”) in Morgantown, WV. In 2016, SRSH provided $401,824 in food assistance, as well as $188,320 in other programs and services, and 2,724 volunteer hours. One of the many ways these nonprofit organizations reach needy families to provide nutritious meals is through a “backpack program.” This is a program that sends children home from school with a backpack full of food on Friday afternoons to ensure they have access to healthy food over the weekend, and it’s a program many Rotary clubs actively support through donations and time.
The backpack feeding  program is 100% confidential and SRSH does not receive the names of participants, so they rely on parent surveys to receive feedback. Here are some direct quotes from some of these parents:
“This program is great. When low on food, I can count on the program to feed my family.”
“As a single mom of 3, this program is truly a godsend. Without having the extra food around, I would have to choose between keeping the lights on or feeding my family.”
“I just want to say thank you very much! Sometimes I struggle to buy food and this helps so much.”
“With the rising cost of food, this is such a blessing to so many.”
“After this year, we should be doing much better – I graduated and will have a good nursing job! This program really helped us a lot! We are so grateful!”
Below are some poignant stories of food pantry clients straight from the SRSH case manager:
We had a woman who was living in her car with her young children and boyfriend. We have been able to give them several referrals to rapid rehousing and such. She ended up getting a place to live and a really good job. She is now considering going back to school and getting her degree.  We have been able to serve them through many of our programs. She has done food pantry, baby closet and Christmas Adopt a Family. She doesn't come in nearly as often as she used to but she does refer [other] people to us.
We are working with another family to help provide support so an older couple can remain in their home. They came to our attention when their adult protective services worker called to see how the couple could get food into their home. Both the husband and wife had been in the hospital. The wife had just gotten out of the hospital and the only thing that they had to eat in the refrigerator was a jar of pickles. We were able to provide her with a food order. We made sure that she had a supply of easy to prepare foods. We are trying to identify what services the family may qualify for and which services the family would find appropriate.
We also have worked with several ladies that have recently broken free of abusive relationships. One was married for several years and had been struggling to start a post–domestic violence life. During our first meeting with her, we had her write a wish list of goals. The big thing that she wanted was to get her GED. She had left school in the ninth grade. The last time she was in the pantry, she reported that she was almost through her GED prep class. Another similar story is a lady that was part of a human trafficking ring. I am not sure how she escaped but it has been my pleasure to see her go from super timid to being more comfortable in a group setting.
SRSH is one of many food pantries that serve and nurture local communities, both by providing food as well as other types of basic support. Backpack programs are becoming increasingly popular across the nation and the Mountain State, and many WV counties have food pantries that provide this service. Some examples include Elk River Backpack Blessings in Elkview; Huntington High School Food Pantry; Richwood Pantry Inc.; and feedbcwvkids in Berkeley County. The Mountaineer Food Bank in Gassaway serves as the centralized food provider for many of the local pantries throughout the state and is a good resource to find information on food banks in a specific area.
As the discussion above illustrates, even in places like Morgantown, which is relatively affluent compared to the rest of WV, food insecurity is a major problem, and one that is not widely known or recognized. Backpack programs are vital to ensuring that children do not go hungry over the weekend, and they can return to school on Monday having had nutritious meals that help them be prepared to learn. These programs rely on many different sources, but individual donations and volunteer support are vital. 
There are many ways to contribute. A $100 donation covers the food cost of one child for an entire school year. A $20 donation provides a family of 3 with a week’s worth of groceries.  Some examples of donations that food pantries regularly need and use include:
  • macaroni and cheese boxes
  • pop-top soup and/or ravioli 
  • individual fruit and/or applesauce cups
  • individual packets of oatmeal 
  • mini canned vegetables (6-8.5oz) 
  • individually packaged snacks (e.g., small bags of crackers, nut-free granola bars, fruit snacks, etc.)
  • peanut butter
  • jelly or jam
  • boxed pasta
  • cereal or oatmeal
  • canned soups
It’s humbling to think how blessed many of us are to have ample access to nutritious food on a daily basis. Rotarians are helping to ensure that children have that same security and can come to school with sound minds and bodies that help them focus and learn. Please consider helping to support your local food bank or joining in with a local Rotary club to stuff backpacks for kids. The rewards for our children and our country’s future are exponential.