Free Meals Appalachia named “Hometown Hero”


BUCKHANNON — Free Meals Appalachia was honored by WV Can’t Wait on Monday, February 28. Free Meals Appalachia is a group based out of the First Presbyterian Church of Buckhannon, located at 13 South Locust Street.

A quote provided by WV Can’t Wait illustrates the award nomination, “Free Meals Appalachia is a grassroots group that came together as a collaboration of many people in Upshur County. It brings everyone together and would not be possible without the work of Heather Schneider. Heather works tirelessly to make sure these meals, which are 100 percent volunteer and community-based happen every two weeks. These meals serve over 150 people. Free Meals Appalachia and the free store are the very definition of hometown heroes and they deserve recognition.”

WV Can’t Wait has a mission to win a people’s government in the Mountain State. WV Can’t Wait selects heroes based on three criteria which include, the lives changed in their communities, the courage shown in standing up to the rich and powerful and the willingness to be led by people who are normally kept out. Those who are chosen to be honored are given a $2,000 award, free on-going leadership training and coaching, access to mental health and safety services and a network of others who make a difference. Additionally, to be nominated, there are no complicated grants or budget reporting. WV Can’t Wait accepted nominations by text and email. They also seeks out people and groups who make a difference that do not have connections or much money. WV Can’t Wait has selected 40 winners, including Free Meals Appalachia and stated, “Instead of celebrating millionaires and celebrities with a ballroom gala, we will honor Hometown Heroes with a barbecue lunch on March 5, 2022, at our statewide convention.”

Co-Chair Stephen Smith, of WV Can’t Wait, said, “We want to change what the word ‘hero’ means. Our heroes are not millionaires or celebrities. We do not care how much money or fame you’ve accumulated. Our heroes are the people who are too busy helping people at the bottom to give a d--- about what the people at the top think.”

Schneider, of Free Meals Appalachia, gave a statement after being presented with the award. “I appreciate the work of WV Can’t Wait and their support, as well as the support of our community. Free Meals Appalachia wouldn’t exist without a phenomenal group of volunteers and supporters, that I am grateful to be a part of, and I’m so proud that this group of volunteers and supporters keeps growing. It takes community to feed community. When we actionably work to help each other, we are capable of keeping each other fed, clothed, housed and so much more,” said Schneider. “Thank you for your support, WV Can’t Wait and everyone helping to make these happen. We do these free meals the second and fourth Saturday of the month here at First Presbyterian Church of Buckhannon. Eventually we hope to have a space to set up a free grocery store too, which will not only help take down more paywalls blocking food access but will help to mitigate food waste in our community.”

If you would like to learn more about WV Can’t Wait and follow other Hometown Heroes, you can follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and visit their website at wvcantwait.com. For more information on Free Meals Appalachia, reach out to First Presbyterian Church of Buckhannon. If you would like to donate to Free Meals Appalachia, contact Schneider at [email protected]

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