Hometown Hero | Diane Miller
Kanawha County is the largest school district in West Virginia with more than 25,000 students attending class each day. That means there are a lot of hungry children who need to be fed.
It's Diane Miller's job as the county's executive director of child nutrition to make sure no child goes hungry. That challenge has only gotten more difficult since school buildings closed in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It's completely new world," Miller said about having to deliver meals to children at home. "At one point, I know it was 155,000 meals that went out in a week."
Each of those meals are given to families in cardboard boxes that contain enough food for five days worth of breakfast and lunch, Miller said. As the school year ends, she is now having to completely redesign the summer meal program to continue helping families.
"Hunger doesn’t stop during the summer," Miller said. "We just want this to continue with the protocol that we have set that we wanted to feed as many as we could until the new normal starts in August."
"For our students, it is very important," Weimer Elementary School principal Pan Snead said. "We have such a high poverty rate here at Weimer Elementary and making sure that our students are fed is so very important for not only their health, but being able to come by and see their teachers is also important for their mental and emotional health because they miss us as much as we miss them."
Snead, Miller and other volunteers handed out 100 boxes of summer meal kits within just 45 minutes on the first day of the program at Weimer Elementary, but that's just one of 20 locations around the county where families can get the meals. If someone is not able to get to the pickup, Miller delivers to their home.
"Diane is an awesome, awesome person," Snead said. "She is on the front line of making sure everything is done, everything is ordered, that volunteers are taken care of. She has been amazing during all of this, the pandemic, making, organizing, getting things done. I can’t say enough good things about Diane."
"I love to serve children," Miller said. "I always have and having great staff and volunteers that will come out and support you when you need help, and the whole team concept of making sure that every child that needs a meal is going to receive one today. There is nothing greater."