By Tom Zenaty, Shelburne Food Shelf organizing committee member
As many in town know, the Shelburne Food Shelf was operated for many years largely under the guiding hand of Val Martel, who passed away this spring. After we lost Val, Reverend Greg Smith of the United Methodist Church (who maintains the Food Shelf bank account) joined with the Shelburne Social Services Committee in calling for a gathering of interested town’s people to consider how to move forward.
Since then much has happened. A group of individuals, those affiliated and those not affiliated with the faith communities, have met several times in the last two months to focus on two general areas. The Operations Committee is working to keep the program afloat on the short term, generally relying Val Martel’s structure. A second Organizing Committee has been meeting twice a month focused on a variety of issues, for instance: incorporation; creation of a Board of Directors, by-laws, policies/procedures; application to become a 501(c) 3 organization to facilitate donations; membership in the VT FoodBank (to name a few things). We are well on our way to identifying members of a Board of Directors. We look to have its membership come from a variety of sectors in town: the faith, business, social service communities, as well as several “at large” members. We hope these efforts will enable us to consider, for instance: increasing available food and its nutritive value; providing information to recipients (and others in town?) about easy and nutritious recipes; expanding the hours the Food Shelf would be open; moving the FS to a larger and more consumer-friendly location; and coordinating in improved ways with other services in the larger community.
Some may not know that our town government does not have the resources to run a food shelf. Nor is the volunteer Shelburne Social Services Committee directing this work, although several of its members are actively involved in the Food Shelf reorganization effort. The Food Shelf Operations and Organizing Committees are wonderful examples of truly grassroots work by folks who recognize that many in our town are in need of assistance and who are willing to join together in creating a new Shelburne Food Shelf, building on the foundation laid by Val Martel.
The Organizing Committee has planned meetings the 2nd and 4th Mondays in August (8/10 and 8/24), from 6:30-8pm, in the town offices. Future meeting dates to be determined. Inquiries about the work of these committees can be directed to this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please feel free to come to a meeting, to learn more and perhaps to join in this worthy effort.