By Tom Zenaty
With the passing of long-time Shelburne Food Shelf operator Val Martel, we were left wondering how to sustain or improve its operation. In May, a group of individuals were called together by our town Social Services Committee and Rev. Greg Smith of the United Methodist Church to discuss how to move forward.
Two committees have since been formed. An Operations Committee focuses on maintaining the program on an interim basis largely as before. An Organizing Committee looks at needed steps to create a more sustainable program.
More than 30 people have offered to assist with one or both of these committees. The Organizing Committee developed a Board of Directors, one representing a broad coalition of folks in town. We envision this should lead to broader involvement in and support for the food shelf.
Our tasks have been many and include a review of the strengths and needed improvements in food shelf operations, incorporation, application to become a non-profit entity, definition of how broad-based our assistance should reach given identified needs in town and the other support services in the area, to name just a few. Much has been done to date and many challenges lie ahead.
The board has now been formed. This is a critical step in moving forward. Its officers are Tom Zenaty (Chair), Susan Stock (Vice-Chair), Christie Allen (Secretary) and Rev. Greg Smith (Treasurer). Other board members are Tod Whitaker, Tom Candon, Barbara Cimaglio and Chris Donnelly.
We are pleased with the range and depth of experience within the board. We are now incorporated and are working on developing by-laws and completing application for non-profit status.
Generous contributions of time and expertise have been provided by local residents. It has become clear that joining the Vermont Foodbank has huge advantages and we will be pursuing that soon. Luckily, Alex Bornstein, a new resident in town and COO of Vermont Foodbank has offered valuable advice. The board is now visiting local food shelves to observe and learn from their experience before it creates a vision for short- and long-term operations.
A terrific, small team of volunteers is working during this interim period to sustain the operation largely as did under Val Martel’s watch. As we get closer to achieving non-profit status and have a clearer picture of the scope of operations, it seems likely we will need to focus on finding a larger, consumer-friendly and affordable space, gaining the capability of refrigeration and freezing of foods and obtaining more shelving, making perishable foods available, among many other things.
Of course having a robust set of volunteers to assist with the day-to-day operations of the future food shelf will be needed. We are getting there and have much appreciated the support provided by many in town, in the past, more recently and, hopefully, in the future.
For more information contact Rev. Greg Smith of the United Methodist Church by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.