Loaves and Fishes Gardens
Loaves and Fishes (L&F) is an outreach office of Catholic Charities West Virginia, located in Hinton, WV. L&F operates a thrift store, food pantry, emergency assistance program, and a summer camp. Our food pantry is open every Friday from 10 am to 3 pm and serves an average of 180 households per month, representing between 300 and 400 individuals. In 2010, we partnered with local property owners to create gardens to grow fresh chemical-free produce to be distributed through the food pantry. Most of the food available through the food pantry is canned or otherwise non-perishable. Occasionally local gardeners will donate produce from their home gardens. Fresh produce is also sometimes available through the Mountaineer Food Bank, but it is so damaged by the time it is transported to us that it is often unusable (we are the last stop for the Food Bank’s delivery truck!) For these reasons, the gardens are crucial in our ability to supplement our nonperishable offerings with fresher, healthier food.
The gardens are tended by volunteers from Bethlehem Farm, a Catholic community in Summers County that hosts 400 volunteers from all over the country per year on “service-retreat weeks.” Bridget Dignan, Program Consultant at L&F, has been a full-time volunteer at Bethlehem Farm since 2011.
Hinton is the county seat of Summers County, WV, in the heart of Appalachia. The median household income is $24,114 compared to $33,993 across West Virginia and $41,994 across the United States. 22.8 percent of residents live below the poverty line. In West Virginia, 34% of children live in extreme poverty (with income below 50% of the poverty level,) compared to 9% across the U.S. West Virginia has the highest percentage (38%) of children living with parents who do not have full-time, year-round employment, compared to 27% across the U.S.
KGI is a nonprofit community of over 30,000 people who are growing some of our own food and helping others to do the same.
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