“We’re definitely seeing an increase in numbers,” Tom Zenaty, Chair, said at the first annual meeting of the Shelburne Food Shelf, which was held Sept. 21 at Trinity Episcopal Church. The meeting marked a time to discuss the group’s progress over the past year and plans for the future.
There have been many changes since the passing of Val Martel – the woman who had served as the head of, and chief champion for, the Food Shelf for many years – last year at the age of 77. One thing has not changed, however. That is the presence of a very real need within the community for the support offered by the Food Shelf.
Last autumn, the Shelburne Food Shelf was seeing about 20 visits per month. By this past August, that number had increased to 78. Even with the increase, Zenaty said, there are still many within the community who are in need of the service who are not accessing it.
Things have changed with the Food Shelf quite a bit during the past year since Martel’s death. Her passing, Zenaty said, left a void. The group that formed afterwards has worked to both continue and expand upon the work Martel had done. An eight-member Board of Directors was formed, and subcommittees were created to address various areas of the overall operation of the Food Shelf.
The number of days the Food Shelf is open has been increased. As of February, it is now open four times per month: the second and fourth Tuesday and Thursday of each month. Hours have been expanded as well, with both morning (9-11am) and evening (5-7pm) times.
“We’ve increased our operations hours, actually shopping hours, eight-fold,” Zenaty said.
There have been other changes as well. The space now has the capacity for fresh foods thanks to the addition of a new refrigerator and freezer. The old shelving was also removed, and new sturdier shelving was installed.
Shelburne Food Shelf has now also been incorporated, thanks to the work of attorney Steve Unsworth. Through the pro-bono work of accountant David Webster, the organization now has 501(c)(3) status.
In addition to providing a time to present an overview of where things currently stand with Shelburne Food Shelf, the meeting was also an opportunity to recognize one of the people who has been instrumental in its continuation. Colleen Haag was presented with The Val Martel Award for her service.
For those looking to help the Food Shelf, there are a number of opportunities to do so. Volunteers are welcome, and details are available on the Food Shelf’s website. A fundraiser will be held on Oct. 6 at Shelburne Vineyard. There is also an annual fundraising drive during which time the group will be sending out letters to known donors. Money can be donated at the Shelburne Farmers’ Market and on Election Day. There are also donation bins at a number of area stores, and a list of current needs is posted on the Food Shelf’s website. Anyone needing help from the Food Shelf please call 802-985-3313.