Meridian Waste Virginia, LLC, a subsidiary of Meridian Waste, an integrated, non-hazardous solid waste services company, is asking for the community’s help to feed those in need through stocking the food pantry at Agape Center in the New River Valley (NRV). The initiative coincides with National Civic Engagement Month and National Preparedness Month in September. 40 Yards to Feed the Community is a new project running from September 15 through November 30 to help fortify the reserves of the local food pantry and feed individuals and families. The measurement of a 40-yard roll-off container from Meridian Waste can collect approximately 23,000-pounds of food or 19,000 meals. Through the recent and on-going consolidation of the area’s food pantries, the Agape Center of the NRV needs assistance with donations of non-perishable foods.
According to FeedingAmerica.org, due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), food insecurity which is a household’s inability to provide enough food for every person to live an active, healthy life, will continue to rise across the nation. In the NRV, food insecurity is projected to rise by 4.7 percent compared to 2018, meaning 15.3 percent of local residents do not have enough to eat. “We live and work here, and we’re dedicated to helping our neighbors,” said Meridian Waste Blue Ridge General Manager Ashleigh Garnes. “There is a need to stock the food pantry and feed our community. We want to increase awareness and opportunities to give back to the NRV. Our goal of 23,000 lbs. of food is a vast effort. However, we believe in the generosity of individuals and businesses for plentiful donations.”
The Agape Center NRV is part of a larger network of Agape Centers in Virginia. The first Agape Center was formed in Moneta, Va. in 2002. The nonprofit has grown from a simple food pantry and clothing closet to a large multifaceted ministry that serves approximately 3,000 individuals each month. “We’ve been busy serving individuals and families while training volunteers,” said Agape Center NRV Executive Director Kim Bowman. “In August 2020, we combined the Spiritual Roots and Giving Tree food pantries. They are now under the Agape Center NRV. Just last month we served 246 families which total 967 individuals. However, the need continues to grow. We are in the process of changing over to a USDA pantry. The amount of USDA food a pantry receives is based in the previous six months client numbers. Because of our continual growth, this will create an additional shortage for several months. Donations from the larger community have been down considerably. We are very appreciative of this effort.”