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Food, COVID-19 Vaccines Available Thursday at Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack

Photo Provided Volunteers assist in a past food drive sponsored by the Ohio County Family Resource Network and the Mountaineer Food Bank last summer.

Free groceries, COVID vaccinations and other health care information all will be available as the Ohio County Family Resource Network hosts a mobile food pantry distribution and vaccination clinic this week.

The event, co-sponsored by the Mountaineer Food Bank, is set to take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday in parking lots C and D at the Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack. There will be a free food distribution for families. Food pantry volunteers will distribute meat, vegetables, milk, bread, and more to those coming to the event.

Health care organizations including UniCare Health Plan of West Virginia also are collaborating to provide free COVID-19 vaccinations and education on site. Cornerstone Care, in partnership with Adagio Health, is bringing mobile medical women’s and reproductive health services to the event.

UniCare will provide a $25 Walmart gift card to the first 50 people who receive the COVID-19 vaccination regardless of their health insurance coverage or its status.

The Ohio County FRN in the past has done food distribution events, but they have never done one before that includes a healthcare component. Ohio County FRN executive director Claudia Raymer chairs the Ohio County Food Security team, which includes representatives both from Unicare and Wheeling Health Right.

She explained last month members were meeting when discussion turned to what the group could do to promote the need for COVID vaccinations and booster shots in the area. This resulted in adding the vaccination clinic and healthcare component to the food distribution event.

“People are already coming through for the food boxes and we are making the best use of their time,” Raymer said. “They are having to get rides with other people just to get there.

“People are welcome to come through just for the food box, or just for a vaccination. It’s for whatever they need.”

She said many in the public also may not be aware of the women’s reproductive services provided by Cornerstone and its mobile medical services, and she hopes many will at least see the van, come to know the organization and maybe schedule an appointment.

Appointments are not required. Those with questions should call Cornerstone Care at 724-705-3195.

Participants in the food distribution will receive one box per vehicle. If there are two adults from two different households in a vehicle, they may be asked to drive through a second time

Safety protocols will be in place during the distribution event. Food boxes will only be placed in trunks, not inside vehicles. If participants do not have space for boxes in their trunk, they will be asked to pull to the side to clear space.

No income verification or ID is required, though participants will need to provide a West Virginia address.

There will be no FRN food distribution in November. The next is set for Dec. 9.

The Ohio County FRN reminds those not able to attend the mobile food pantry they can always access food by visiting a “blessing box” — one of the 24 hour food pantries that have been placed throughout the county. These are located outside the The Soup Kitchen of Greater Wheeling in downtown Wheeling, Bethlehem Elementary School, Bridge Street Middle School, The Elks Lodge in South Wheeling, Greggsville Park, Garden Park in Warwood, Valley Grove Community Center and the West Liberty Volunteer Fire Department.

For more information about Blessing Boxes or the mobile food pantry, contact Raymer at 304-232-5600 or OhioCountyFRN@yahoo.com.

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