GASSAWAY, W.Va. -- Carla Nardella would love to cook meals for those less fortunate. But in the past 28 years, without stirring a pot, she's fed hundreds of thousands of hungry people in West Virginia.
Nardella is the executive director of Mountaineer Food Bank, and she and her staff serve more than 600 programs in the state.
"That's 260,000 individuals per month," Nardella said. The nonprofit organization distributed 70.5 million pounds of food from January 2000 to December 2011. Those numbers have since skyrocketed.
"We processed 9.5 million pounds last year," Nardella said.
At a recent training session for organizations new to the food bank, Nardella acknowledged she would love to work in a feeding kitchen, preparing and serving food directly to those in need.
"I'll do that someday," she said, laughing. Until that day, Nardella and the staff at Mountaineer Food Bank will continue to serve 48 counties in the state. (The Huntington Food Bank serves the other seven.) Under her watch, Nardella has seen the donations struggle to keep up with the demand.
"It used to be that I would go into that warehouse and it would be full. But now, there's more demand than there are donations," she said. "What happens now, we're moving stuff through here so fast. I was here last night until 9 boxing up bakery items, and they are on a truck this morning.
"You have to work on the fly all the time. I just don't have that much here to box up."
Nardella is from Gassaway, and 29 years ago she saw an ad in the newspaper for an office manager.