When Hank White retired from his career as a mechanical engineer at General Dynamics in 2004, he wanted to spend more time volunteering in his community. The long-time Hinesburg resident knew Doug Gunnerson, who was running the Hinesburg Food Shelf, so he didn’t have to look far for his good cause.
About 10 years ago, he and Jeff Glover became co-directors of the organization when Gunnerson stepped down.
“Jeff and I split the duties,” White said. “I do the food ordering and I’m the general maintenance guy when something happens.” The food shelf is open on Tuesday nights from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and Friday mornings from 10 a.m. to noon. White makes monthly food orders to the Vermont Foodbank in Barre, which delivers on the second Wednesday of each month. He supplements those shipments with orders from Lantman’s Market, as needed.
The 80-year-old White has been volunteering long enough that he has a system in place. “I try to get different kinds of meat from the foodbank,” he said. “Most of it is free if we play our game right and get it when it’s available. We also get commodities from the government, which are free.”
White said the number of families visiting the food shelf is generally between 80 and 90. “We have quite a few younger families,” he said. “It’s a 50/50 mix between young families and people who have been coming here for years. The numbers have been stable for a while with some new people coming while others have passed away.”
White is saddened that some of the children who used to visit the food shelf with their parents are now coming with their own children. “About 20 percent of the people do that,” he said. “It seems like they get stuck in a rut as a family from generation to generation.”
Visitors to the food shelf come from Shelburne, Charlotte, Huntington, St. George and Monkton, as well as Hinesburg.
The food shelf has 60 volunteers who adhere to a monthly schedule. One woman is in charge of checking the shelves on a weekly basis to create a list for ordering food. “We walk with people,” he said. “We help them pick out what they need, especially when it comes to meat. We have a lot of meat right now and we try to give people a little extra.”
White said it is harder to find people to help out on the Friday morning shifts because many volunteers still work.
There are some changes being made to the building at 51 Ballards Corner Road, which was donated by Jan Blomstrann of Renewable Wind NRG Partners. “We just installed heat pumps and we’re getting it painted,” White said. “Students from CVU designed a handicap ramp that is being installed and there is a new sign at our entrance.”
White moved to Hinesburg in 1971. In the past, he has served on the Recreation Committee and coached Little League. He recently gave some of his acreage to his daughter, who now lives next door to him.
White says he enjoys having the opportunity to help his less fortunate neighbors. “It’s something I like to do,” he said of his food shelf work. “It’s always nice to help people; especially when they need to eat.”