COVID-19 Resources

Local food shelf feeds area’s hungry~ RH 1-30-16

Local food shelf feeds area’s hungry
By Andy Clark
STAFF WRITER | January 30 , 2016

Robert Layman / Staff Photo Cheryl Hooker of the Rutland Community Cupboard checks out some of the new produce additions to the food shelf Friday at its new location at 65 River St. in Rutland.
Rutland’s Community Cupboard became a community store as of Dec. 1. After two months of operation at its new, larger quarters at 65 River St., the organization held an open house and ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday afternoon.
Rutland Community Cupboard runs a food shelf to meet some of the nutrition needs of its customers from several communities: Rutland City, Rutland Town, Shrewsbury, Clarendon, Wallingford, Mendon and Killington.
Kelly Giancola, who was hired as the organization’s executive director in August 2015, shared details about the move.
“We were cramped in our former quarters at 191 Columbian Avenue. New space was needed in order to be respectful to both our customers and our volunteers,” she said. “We’re selling the property on Columbian and bought our new River Street quarters. We’ve had contractors doing renovations and volunteers to paint and set up shelving in here to prepare for our opening.”
The new space includes a foyer and adequate waiting space to enable customers to avoid foul weather, unlike the outdoor queues that were standard on Columbian Avenue. Giancola said the move offers other options for operations, but it’s too soon to tell whether their policies can be changed. “It’s the beginning of the year, and we’re seeing some people again who used up their six times per year privileges in 2015. Also, since we’re a little over a mile from our old space, people are going to have to adjust. So for the moment, we’re leaving our policies in place and open for the same hours — Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m.”
As a network partner of the Vermont Foodbank, Rutland Community Cupboard can obtain food with “substantial savings over retail prices,” Giancola said. In addition, reclaimed food items such as manufactured products with changed labeling, U.S. Department of Agriculture food commodities or restock surpluses can be obtained by food shelves from Vermont Foodbank at no cost.
Greater space implies larger inventories on site. “Now we can order more items up front, and through a grant we received, we’re soon getting a new refrigerator and a new freezer to enable us to extend the availability of some of our food items,” she added.
While more spacious, brightly lit quarters with lots of storage is part of the story of allowing customers to enjoy their services, so is the attitude of their volunteers.
Mary Anne Justin is a retired teacher, now in her 70s, who ended her 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. shift before the ribbon-cutting event. “I thought I could use my people skills here when I retired. I always consider that I could be on the other side of this counter at any time,” she said. “I’m just a disaster event away.”
RCC Board President Darren Childs was at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “I wanted to give back to the community,” he said about his five-year involvement. Childs is otherwise the director of quality and marketing at Rutland Regional Medical Center. “We had tremendous volunteer support in sprucing up this space and moving over shelving.”
Joe Dauscher, network relations manager for Vermont Foodbank, was at the ribbon-cutting ceremony as well. “We’re getting different demand for services from our partner food shelves in different parts of the state,” he said. “But only a few of them are seeing a drop in demand. Every few years, Feeding America puts out a study called Hunger in America. We know from that report that for 2014 Vermont had 153,000 people use the services of a food shelf.”
“That means that one in four Vermonters are customers of food shelves. We also know that many people don’t use the services because of pride. Maybe the beautiful space here and treating people with dignity and respect will help people in Rutland to overcome feelings of pride,” he added.
Rutland Community Cupboard is one of a number of food shelves in the central and southern regions of the state that offer food through the Vermont Foodbank network. RCC served 516 families every month in 2014, with over 20,000 food items each month, on average, according to its website.
Other food shelves in the region include: Rutland (BROC and Salvation Army), West Rutland, Hubbardton, Fair Haven, Pittsford, Poultney, Rochester, Bennington, North Bennington, Arlington, Manchester Center, Ludlow and Woodstock, said Giancola and the Vermont Foodbank website. Community Cupboard raises on 100 percent of its budget from local donations. Tax deductible donations can be sent to Community Cupboard, PO Box 1272-A, Rutland, VT 05701. Interested volunteers are encouraged to Kelly Giancola at 747-6119.
Community Cupboard’s next fundraising event is Soup Bowls for Hunger on March 26 at Rutland High School.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.