FAITH IN FEEDING - South Burlington Food Shelf is committed to feeding the community12/12/2022 11:16AM ● By TAY GREENLEAF
In early 2018, Peter Leduc and a small group of friends had a lot weighing on their minds. Dedicated to pursuing their respective faiths more fully on a daily level, the group banded together to find a way to best give back to the South Burlington community. After consulting with the school district, worship centers, Common Roots, a non-profit that was helping feed about 30 SB families, the VT Food bank, and the other surrounding town food shelves, it was thought that there would be about 200 households in need of a food shelf. That is how the idea of the South Burlington Food Shelf was born.
Opening the storefront just a mere four months before the COVID lockdowns, the original group and community volunteers that spearheaded the project never missed a day.Now the director ofSB Food Shelf, Patrick Carmolli only sees the demand for their services grow. “The number of households needing our help has risen dramatically since we began,” says Peter. “ Covid had a lot to do with that but we also expected to grow as people became aware of where we were and what we do.”Peter has seen the number of households in need rise from around 250 at the start to 720, with an average of 40 households fed per week
A LITTLE HELP FROM OUR FRIENDS
Despite such a rise in demand,Peter feels grateful for the amount of volunteers and support they receive from the community. “ Through our volunteers, donors, and people spreading the word, we have been able to help the people in need in South Burlington. We are always in need of volunteers–without them we would close.” Alongside individual volunteers, TraderJoes has stepped up to the plate, offering around 1200 lbs of food and supplies per week. The Food Shelf also partners with Common Roots, who come every day from May to Thanksgiving and set up a tent outside to give away fresh, organic produce and prepared goods they have made. “Each day we have been open we have received a donation of food, supplies, or a financial donation from someone or a business in the community,” says Peter. “I am amazed at the lengths people go to help us.”
SB FoodShelf tries to be as available as possible for both the households in need as well as those offering to donate. The storefront is currently open for donations on Thursday from 9:30am to 11:30am and 4pm to6pm, and Fridays and Saturdays from 8am to 10am, but you can also call them to work out a time that is best for you. Peter explains that the items the Food Shelf needs the most are canned, boxed, and packaged foods (including baking supplies, coffee and tea, and sauces) to paper products, feminine hygiene products, and soaps. They will also gladly accept fresh produce as long as it is in its own separate container. Along with food products, Peter notes that they will always accept monetary donations and gift cards to places like supermarkets
A LITTLE GOES A LONG WAY
While to some, donating a box of pasta might not seem like a big deal,Peter explains that the donations go to a wider community of people in need than we might think. “Most of our customers are working families who have full time jobs but still need the support,” saysPeter. “ We also see a lot of senior citizens, homeless, and now college students who are becoming the fastest growing segment of food shelf users in the USA.”
While it is tough work running the Food Shelf,Peter says there is no greater reward than seeing how thankful people are for what the group provides.“ Our customers are wonderful people,” exclaims Peter, “We all need a bit of help every once in a while.”To get involved or to see a more extensive list of items to donate, go to the SB Food Shelf website atsouthburlingtonfoodshelf.org, email [email protected], or call at 802-858-5267.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF SOUTH BURLINGTON FOOD SHELF
South Burlington Food Shelf
356 Dorset St.
South Burlington, VT 05403