George Smoulder, executive director of The United Way of the Upper Ohio Valley, this week announced the renewal of a $63,500 grant from the West Virginia Walmart Foundation to continue the “Let’s Start Fresh” program that will continue to benefit 15 social service agencies in five West Virginia counties.
The “Let’s Start Fresh” program will help the agencies continue to provide a wider variety of fresh fruits and vegetables into food distribution or preparation. Funds will be distributed to several agencies to buy fresh fruits and vegetables each month. The manner in which the food is provided will vary according to each organization’s needs, whether through congregate meals, home delivery or food basket distribution.
The grant provides an opportunity beyond the United Way Campaign to provide resources to several organizations, some of them United Way, and some not affiliated, to meet very tangible needs that exist in the community.
Throughout the program year, the agencies will submit monthly receipts to the United Way for the purchase of the fruits and vegetables. Information Helpline, a United Way agency, will administer the program.
The original grant, as well as the new one, was written and the program developed by Tina Morris and Wendy Tronka, grant and fund development contractors with the United Way. They developed the program based on the U.S. Surgeon General’s report that West Virginia is tied with Kentucky for the highest percentage of overweight children in the nation, at 21 percent. The Let’s Start Fresh Program hopes to increase awareness of the great need for not just food in the Norththern Panhandle of West Virginia, but healthy food.