Changes to hunger relief make donations more important

As we look forward to spring, we also note that the pandemic hunger relief program is coming to an end. Nationally, starting in March, $3 billion in monthly food stamp benefits will cease. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients will each receive about $90 per month less in benefits.

The universal free meals program in our schools is also set to expire at the end of the school year. If this does occur, the USDA free and reduced-price meal program will likely be reinstated. Under the USDA free and reduced-price meal program, a family of four will not qualify for free lunch if they make more than $36,100 a year and a family of four making more than $51,000 a year will not be eligible for reduced price meals. It is predicted that food shelves and little free pantries, already grappling with inflation, will be further stretched to provide a safety net.

Charlotte Community Food Shelf and Assistance. Photo contributed

In these challenging times, we are grateful for the donation provided by Jeffrey W. and Jolinda D. Smith and the Windham Foundation, as well as receipt of generous support from Donna and Remo Pizzagalli, given in memory of Mary Wright. We also thank Zero Gravity Craft Brewery and the Backyard Bistro for their collaborative donation. Donations of delicious bread remain a source of nourishment and delight; we thank Stewart’s Bakery. Kudos and thanks also to Jack Dore, Martin Kahm and Will Boyce of the eighth grade Charlotte Central School’s Wellness Project for collecting and donating a bounty of canned goods.

The children growing within the support of this community benefit from the yearly Clothing Drive, a partnership between the food shelf and the Charlotte Grange. In March, those families using the food shelf are asked to provide sizes required to outfit their children for summer.

In April, the Charlotte Grange will accept donations of gently used clothing for the Grange Rummage Sale. Those of us who are doing spring cleaning might put aside donations of gently used items of children’s clothing for this purpose.

The food shelf is also looking for a new home. We remain grateful for the many years the Congregational Church has provided space to us in their basement. We seek a first-floor space of about 600 square feet with heat, electricity and plumbing and with room for parking and receipt of large food orders. The space could potentially be a shared one. Please email Peggy Sharpe, food shelf secretary, with any leads.

The Charlotte Food Shelf remains committed to providing dignified access to healthy food and assistance to those in need. We remind the community that if you or someone you know in Charlotte or North Ferrisburgh is facing utility shut-off or an unexpected hardship, help is available. All requests and grants are kept private and are available by simply calling 802-425-3252 or by filling out a request form. Request forms are available during food shelf open hours or on our website.

The food shelf is open for food distribution from 4-6 p.m. on the second and fourth Wednesday of each month. Our address is 403 Church Hill Road behind the Charlotte Congregational Church. Masking is encouraged during the ongoing pandemic and its new virus variants. For emergency food, please call John at 802-425-3130. If you cannot come to the food shelf due to COVID symptoms or seek further information about the food shelf, please call 802-425-3252.

Monetary donations are appreciated, tax deductible and can be addressed to: Charlotte Food Shelf, Inc., P.O. Box 83, Charlotte, VT 05445.