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Food pantry seeks feeding volunteers, farms for calves

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - If the typical kinds of volunteer projects don't sound intriguing enough, consider this one - bottle-feeding calves destined for the Union Mission dinner table.

That's just what the organization has in mind as it explores creative ways to bring good, and local, food to its shelters and pantries.

Rex Whiteman, president of Union Mission Ministries, said AEP purchased a steer at last year's Putnam County Fair and donated it to help feed the hungry. That gift provided about 500 pounds of meat for the program.

"We realize we have to create other sources for food," Whiteman said. "So we realized if we could come up with some calves and graze them all summer, that could give us some resources."

Already, the group has two calves purchased last week with money donated by a local law firm. Volunteers at Hometown Independent Mission are bottle-feeding them until they can be grazed.

They'll be butchered in the fall.

Tammy Scott, director of development for Union Mission, turned to Facebook to appeal to the public.

"Cow-sitters wanted," their post reads.

Scott explained that Union Mission is seeking people to care for very young calves initially and/or house them for the whole season on their farms.

"We have a few farms willing to put them in with their own cows to graze," she said.

"We're hoping to do many; we're not talking just one or two," Scott said. "We're trying to become more self-sustainable. People aren't giving as much, so we have to find other ways."  

Union Mission is also hoping to raise a garden of its own, using property adjacent to the South Park facility. And the program will ask local gardeners to consider planting an extra garden row and donate the yield to the hungry.

Whiteman said, "We need to become more creative in how we raise food, no pun intended. We are looking to someday being independent. A lot of food goes through this place, and there's never enough."

Union Mission operates a food pantry and also feeds the homeless at three area shelters.

Those interested in feeding Union Mission calves or grazing them on their farms can call 304-925-0366.

Contact writer Cheryl Caswell at or 304-348-4832.



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