Volunteers with the Frank Veltri dinner overcome obstacles to feed people

West Virginia

CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – A decades old tradition of feeding the hungry in Charleston can’t go on as normal this year because of COVID-19. But volunteers have cooked up a way to keep the tradition alive.

Volunteers prepare to distribute meals.

“I like that we are trying to keep everyone safe but still provide for them even in these times,” said volunteer Matteo Romeo. He and Tori Romeo are Frank Veltri’s grandchildren. They are among several volunteers who spent their Friday sorting food to be delivered to low income residents in area high-rises this weekend.

Normally, volunteers would be prepping food that would be served hot but this year they can only send the ingredients.

“My grandfather set this up as a way to provide meals,” Tori Romeo said. “These people wouldn’t be able to have these meals otherwise.”

Doing things this way is a first for volunteers but they are learning as they go and doing the best they can.

“Every year we get the same volunteers who know their job and their routine,” said Traci Stickland with the Kanawha Valley Collective. “So this year, there’s definitely had to be more thought.”

Unlike previous years they needed fewer people for the preparation and more people for deliveries. But volunteers are hoping that by still finding a way to feed people they’ll be able to send a message to the community.

“Basically that no matter what the times are we still have to be there for everyone,” Tori Romeo said. “So even though the world is crazy we can’t give up on each other we have to stick around for each other.” Volunteers are remaining socially distant, wearing masks, getting their temperatures taken and completing a survey.

For many of the faithful volunteers who are there year after year this will be the first Thanksgiving they’ve spent at home for a long time. They are hoping things will be back to normal next year.

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