May has seen flowering of food shelf volunteering

May is a time of renewal. The birdsong, rich fragrances and floral hues of Vermont tend to provide inspiration to labor, be it in the garden or at the food shelf.

The Charlotte Food Shelf volunteers have been busy with spring cleaning and organizing. We would like to thank all our volunteers, including Maria Blanchette, Kim Ziegelman and Katie Shearer, who we welcome as new volunteers.

We are grateful for the decade of work volunteer John Lavigne has provided the Charlotte Food Shelf. He has always been the friendly face of welcome to families and consistently looks for ways the food shelf can serve those in need. He is our “go-to guy” for jobs including stocking large food bank orders, managing monthly pickup of fresh produce, defrosting the freezer and food distribution. We thank you, John.

Marie Blanchette (left) and Kim Ziegelmen work on organizing the Charlotte Food Shelf.
Marie Blanchette (left) and Kim Ziegelmen work on organizing the Charlotte Food Shelf.

Many hands do make light work. We are hoping to increase our volunteers who have the strength and stamina to manage delivery and stocking of food bank deliveries, including food transport down stairs to the basement of the food shelf. We are also hoping to increase our volunteers to staff food distribution on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month.

There are many ways that this wonderful community makes the food shelf mission a reality. The food shelf is the grateful recipient of monies and boxes of food collected from the Repair Café fundraiser, sponsored by Sustainable Charlotte Vermont. Participants whose items were repaired both saved items from the landfill and gave a donation to the food shelf as payment for repairs; a “win-win” for both people and our environment.

We are grateful for the donation provided by the Shelburne-Charlotte Association of Travelers made in honor and thanks to the Charlotte landowners who welcome recreational snowmobilers. The clothing drive, a collaboration between the Charlotte Grange and the Charlotte Food Shelf, was a huge success. Donations of children’s clothing are appreciated and in active use.

We also thank Claire Houghton for her generous donation of beef, Stewart’s Bread for its delicious bread donations and the talented Agnes Lussier for the teddy bears she sewed and gifted to the babies served by the food shelf. The donations received from Meg Berlin and Jeffrey and Irene Horbar are also much appreciated.

Growing season brings forth creative ideas to share the bounty. The food shelf is grateful for the $2,000 grant received from the Vermonters Feeding Vermonters program of the Vermont Foodbank. This will provide the food shelf with fresh fruit, vegetables, eggs and dairy products from local producers. Fresh local produce is so appreciated.

For those home gardeners, please consider planting an extra row to benefit the Food Shelf. Please call Nancy Bloch (802-598-0410) for produce or nonperishable food donations. Access to local produce for food shelf families will also be increased through the Farm Stand Together program, which provides gift cards that will allow those with food insecurity to shop at selected local farmstands. Applications for the Farm Stand Together gift card are available through the Charlotte Food Shelf. For more information about this exciting program.

For many years the Charlotte Congregational Church has generously provided space to us in their basement. We are still actively searching for a new home, hoping to find a first-floor space of about 600 square feet with room for parking and receipt of large food orders. Please contact Peggy Sharpe, food shelf secretary, with any leads.

The Charlotte Food Shelf remains committed to providing dignified access to healthy food as well as 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, in back of the Congregational Church in Charlotte. Masking is encouraged. For emergency food, please call John at 802-425-3130. If you cannot come to the food shelf due to COVID symptoms or seek more information about the food shelf, 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.