The Food Shelf is graced with the generosity of many gardeners who share their bounty. Photo contributed

The Food Shelf is graced with the generosity of many gardeners who share their bounty. Photo contributed.

By Susan Ohanian, Contributor

Rick Bragg’s The Best Cook in the World: Tales from My Momma’s Southern Table is a wonderfully poignant, funny and rollicking food memoir, as well as a loving tribute to his mother. It is available from the Charlotte Library as a book and as a CD audio. The book is heartfelt; it’s hilarious and it’s highly recommended. And to hear Rick Bragg read it is a wonderful delight.

Bragg writes about tomatoes in Chapter 18, which starts with Momma’s complaints that tomatoes haven’t tasted good for the last 50 years. Bragg notes, “It is understandable that she would feel that way about supermarket tomatoes, which are not actually food, and most likely ripened somewhere on a truck between here and Homestead, or Mexico, or in the hold of a tramp steamer. A supermarket tomato is food the way a frozen burrito is food: of last resort.”

The solution is, of course, homegrown tomatoes. As Lewis Grizzard, another Southern writer, noted, “It’s difficult to think anything but pleasant thoughts while eating a homegrown tomato.” And that’s what we hope for the people who visit the Food Shelf where tomatoes arrived— ripened on the vine by Charlotte sun, not while in a shipping container.

The Food Shelf is graced with the generosity of many gardeners who share their bounty—fresh produce from a number of family gardens as well as the work of David Miskell and Rick Tenney, the CCS garden and the Congregational Church garden. We offer them special thanks as well as thanks to Louise McCarren, Barbara and Bud Lawrence, Lori Racha Silverman, and Jennie MacDonough for sharing lettuce, sweet corn, tomatoes, Swiss chard, squash, zukes, cucumbers, green beans—and more— with our neighbors. Bethany Brightland and her daughter have designated veggie rows in their garden for the Food Shelf. An anonymous donor left eggs and vegetables.

Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Aug. 11, Elizabeth Bernstein notes that research links kindness to a wealth of physical and emotional benefits, helping the recipient as well as the giver. In her words, “Being kind is an excellent coping skill for the Covid-19 era. In a time of isolation, kindness fosters connection to others. It helps provide purpose and meaning to our life, allowing us to put our values into practice. And it diminishes our negative thoughts.”

A big thank you to those anonymous donors who are filling the drop-off boxes with their kindness—crackers and other popular nonperishable items.

A special thank you to Jennie MacDonough for providing children’s face masks and special birthday boxes, besides fresh vegetables.

The Food Shelf depends on volunteers who do a multitude of tasks. We want to give a grateful nod to helpers who have returned to the fold: Liz Foster, Louise McCarren and Pete Purdum. Thank you to Mark DesLauriers for helping at this week’s distribution and to the Congregational Church volunteers and members who donate needed items every week.

More generosity
Following CDC guidelines, La Villa Bistro held an outside dinner with music at the Crossings and raised donations for the food shelf.

More donations came in from the Charlotte Congregational Church, Ann Castle, Robert and Marjorie Archer, Mark and Rachel Stein, Jeff and Irene Horbar, Benjamin and Josephine Kaestner, Aileen Kraus, Bruce and Linda Williamson, and Kathleen Nolan.

Reminder: To provide nourishment for children’s minds as well as their bodies, books are available when the Food Shelf is open on Wednesday evenings. Book appeal ranges from babies to teens. Books for children are also available every day just outside the Grange.

The Charlotte Food Shelf is an all volunteer organization supported by the Charlotte Congregational Church, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church and the Charlotte community. It is located in the Congregational Church vestry at 403 Church Hill Road.

It is open Wednesday evenings from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. for curbside pickup. Delivery is also available to those sheltering in place for health reasons. The Food Shelf contact number (802) 425-3252.

Visit the website for more information on other assistance programs, such as 3 Squares VT.

Keeping safe
The Food Shelf continues to take precautions to help everyone keep safe. Anyone who has a fever or cough—or symptoms that might seem like a cold—should not come to the distributions. Also, don’t come if you have been in contact with anyone who has these symptoms. Instead, call (802) 425-3252 and leave your name and number. You will receive a call back to come up with a plan. We need to help families and volunteers stay safe.

Financial assistance
Reminder: The Food Shelf has some funds available for emergency assistance with fuel and electric bills. Call (802) 425-3252 if you need assistance. For emergency food call John at (802) 425-3130.

Volunteers welcome
The Food Shelf welcomes volunteers to assist with:

  • Food distribution
  • Food Shopping
  • Special projects throughout the year

For information please call (802) 425-3252.

Donations
The Charlotte Food Shelf, Inc. is a nonprofit organization, and all donations are tax deductible. Our organization is run by volunteers, and so all donations made to the Food Shelf go directly for nutritious food or assistance to our neighbors in Charlotte and North Ferrisburgh. Should you wish to honor someone with a donation, a special acknowledgement will be sent to that person.  Checks may be mailed to Charlotte Food Shelf, P.O. Box 83, Charlotte, VT 05445.

Call the Food Shelf at (802) 425-3252 for a recording of the distribution times.