By Susan Ohanian, Contributor

Throughout the year, the Food Shelf rejoices in the ongoing stories of our community reaching out many helping hands. Many contributions are anonymous and go unrecognized but certainly not unappreciated. This month we celebrate our library and its great dilly pickle event.

The library’s new “Charlie Cart” portable kitchen unit was used to discuss the general basics of canning and the array of possibilities in preserving food this way. Photo by Margaret Woodruff

The library’s new “Charlie Cart” portable kitchen unit was used to discuss the general basics of canning and the array of possibilities in preserving food this way. Photo by Margaret Woodruff.

The October Library News featured an invitation to “brighten up winter meals with these fun pickles made from whole green beans and lots of dill.” Experienced canner Ruah Swennefelt was joined by Seed Library co-coordinator Linda Hamilton to use the library’s new “Charlie Cart” portable kitchen unit to discuss the general basics of canning and the array of possibilities in preserving food this way. People who had never canned before practiced safe distance to accept the challenge of attending the demonstration at the Charlotte Library parking lot. This event was co-sponsored by the Charlotte Library, Transition Town Charlotte and the Charlotte Seed Library. Jars of preserved pickles were given to the Food Shelf.

Want to know what’s coming next? For ongoing information about library happenings, check out their website. You can sign up for a monthly newsletter.

The COVID catastrophe didn’t shut down the food garden at Charlotte Central School. Last spring, Deidre Holmes put out a call for help, and she reports that throughout our very dry summer “generous community members each took on a week to water, weed and harvest.” The bountiful result was that “starting in May, the garden has been able to make weekly donations of fresh organic produce to the Charlotte Food Shelf and/or the school meals program.” We extend great thanks to Deidre and to Cecelia Wu, Jeanne Blackmore, Julia Parker-Dickerson, MaryEllen Hebert, Karen Tuininga, Deborah Dodd Squires, Alice Trageser, Abby Foulk and members of the Charlotte, Shelburne, Hinesburg Rotary Club.

Thank you for monetary donations: Anne Castle Co-op, Joseph & Jennifer Dickerman, Tara Mullen, Kathleen Nolan, Charles & Elisabeth DesLauriers, Cynthia Marshall, Robert & Marjorie Archer, and Deb Cook.

Hooting, howling, shrieking with laughter
Keep an eye on Front Porch Forum for the latest news for where candy is being handed out around town on Halloween, and the Food Shelf will provide food for the soul. An anonymous donor has provided Halloween-themed books for the children, and we hope older teens and adults will share in the word fun. Parents should realize that word play isn’t frivolous but is actually fundamental for vocabulary development. Riddles depend on understanding and appreciating such basics as word sounds, double meanings, variant spellings and idioms. Think about the verbal understandings required in these samples:

How do vampires get around on Halloween? On blood vessels.

What do ghosts wear when their eyesight gets blurred? Spooktacles.

Who did Frankenstein go trick or treating with? His ghoul friend.

Knock Knock
Who’s there?
Phillip!
Phillip who?
Phillip my bag with Halloween candy, please!

Adults may groan, but reading research shows that when you practice such word play with kids, you are practicing reading basics. Here’s a word challenge for your kids: Make up Halloween questions that can be answered by these idioms.
white as a ghost
ghost town
skeleton key
skeleton staff
witch hunt
make your blood run cold
death trap

Important Notice
If a family can’t get to the food shelf they should call (802) 425-3252 to arrange for food delivery. Just leave a name and number for a return call. We don’t want anyone cut off from necessary basics: food, shelter, utilities or gas for their car. Our community calls out to people: Don’t be reluctant to ask for a little help.

Note
For anyone suffering economic hardship from COVID-19, look into the possibility of assistance through the Vermont Covid-19 Arrearage Assistance program. This program provides eligible Vermont utility ratepayers served by a fixed-line telephone service, Vermont electric, or natural gas, with a grant to assist with past-due balances. For more information, you can call your local Vermont Community Action Agency or contact the Department’s Consumer Affairs and Public Information (CAPI) Division at (800) 622-4496 or send an email.

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 and to those who find themselves unable to get to the delivery night. The Food Shelf contact number is (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
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, 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. Because it’s getting dark earlier and earlier, starting Wednesday Nov. 4, we plan to change the weekly pick-up time. For details, watch for information in The Charlotte News, Front Porch Forum, a recorded message on our phone line, and a sign posted on the Food Shelf door.