Health and Hunger Project

Obesity and Hunger can be consequences of low income and lack of access to healthy foods. Poverty can make people more vulnerable to both. Join us for a special Facebook Live event as we talk with Merinda and Amy about new childhood obesity rates, how obesity and hunger exist in the same spaces, and ways we can address both with policy, system and environmental changes in our state and communities. 


Merinda Stricklen, PA-C- Merinda is a physician assistant and clinical coordinator for KEYS 4 HealthyKids 

Amy Gannon, EdD, RDN, LD is the Undergraduate Program Director and Assistant Professor of the Department of Dietetics at Marshall University. She’s also a registered dietitian.


Kelli Caseman, Executive Director, Think Kids 

The Health and Hunger Project is a partnership between UniCare and Think Kids to build better bridges between healthcare and access to healthy food. 

Draft- Health an Hunger Summit Series
The Health and Hunger Summit Series is a virtual series that will take a candid look at connections between the health care system and community resources that address hunger in West Virginia. Health and hunger are profoundly connected. Their systems should be, too. Join us for group discussions with experts from around the state as we collectively work to build these important bridges. 
Session One 

The State of Health and Hunger in West Virginia

Join us for the first conversation in the series, where we’ll discuss the current state of health and hunger in West Virginia with experts in both the fields of health care and community food access.


Ayne Amjad, MD, MPH- State Health Officer and Commissioner of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources’ Bureau for Public Health

Cyndi Kirkhart, Executive Director, Facing Hunger Food Bank

Chad Morrison, Executive Director, Mountaineer Food Bank

Margaret Ann O’Neal, Executive Director, United Way of Central West Virginia


Session Two

Health and Hunger from the Health Care Provider’s Perspective

Hunger is growing. According to research published in The Journal of Pediatrics, approximately one-half of families receiving routine pediatric care at a community health center during the pandemic reported food insecurity. 

Still, adopting screening and referral practices is challenging. Do providers have time to screen? Does stigma play a role in apprehension to screen? What if there aren’t any community resources to refer patients to?

Join us for a conversation with primary care providers about the challenges to identifying and addressing hunger. 


Kimberly Becher, MD– Community Care of West Virginia

Rafka Chaiban, MD, FAAP– WVU Pediatrics

Jessica Wooten, DNP– Coplin Health Systems


Session Three

Health and Hunger from the Community Resource Provider’s Perspective

How are food pantries and resource providers responding to the needs of their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic? What do they do when they identify a person who needs to see a doctor? Join us for a candid, collaborative dialogue with leaders in this field from around out state to discuss the current state of our food access system, who is currently accessing their services, challenges to providing these services, and ways we can work together to address food insecurity, for the health of all West Virginians.


Vandalyn Justice, The Salvation Army

Sara Lindsay, Catholic Charities

Roark Sizemore, Pantry Plus More 

Mike Thrush, Project Hop2e


Session Four

Bringing Health and Hunger Resources to the Same Table

As the summit series comes to a close, we bring health and hunger policy experts to the table to ask: How can we use what we’ve learned to promote positive policy change between the health care and food access systems? Join us for an audience-engaged conversation about next steps in bridging the gaps between health and hunger.


Alexandra Ashbrook, Food Research & Action Center (FRAC)

Caitlin Cook, Mountaineer Food Bank

Candice Hamilton, West Virginia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics

Spencer Moss, West Virginia Food and Farm Coalition 


Sponsored by: 

Hosted by: