New Location for Randolph Food Shelf

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Front Page / Dec. 9, 2010 2:12pm EST

By Martha Slater
New Location for Randolph Food Shelf By Martha Slater
Pauline Garner unboxes cereal for the shelves of the Randolph Area Food Shelf. The Food Shelf's new location on Prince Street is much larger and more convenient for food suppliers and clients. (Herald / Zach Nelson)Pauline Garner unboxes cereal for the shelves of the Randolph Area Food Shelf. The Food Shelf's new location on Prince Street is much larger and more convenient for food suppliers and clients. (Herald / Zach Nelson)

The Randolph Area Food Shelf opened its doors at its new quarters at 12 Prince Street (next to the Valley Bowl) Tuesday, Dec. 7.

Anyone who would like to tour the new facility is invited to attend a public open house this Sunday, Dec. 12 from 1-3 p.m. There will be a second open house Saturday, Jan. 8, also from 1-3 p.m.

The food shelf has served the Randolph area community since 1977, providing food for people in need in Randolph, Braintree, Brookfield, and East Granville. Until last week, it was headquartered at Bethany House, next door to the church on Main Street.

“Over two years ago, Bethany told us that we’d need to find new quarters,” explained food shelf committee member Tim Caulfield, who acted as clerk of the works for the remodeling work at the new location.

“We had been searching for a building since then, and we made an offer on one building and were offered two others for free, but the remodeling costs would have been too high,” added board member Peter Leonard, who was in charge of the move.

“We saw this building a year and a half ago, but after the whole process of searching, realized that it met our needs better than we thought it did,” Caulfield said.

The closing on the building took place in early October and Richburg Builders spent a month doing the remodeling work.

Large New Facility

The new location, formerly the home of the Vermont Wooden Box Company, includes a 7,500 square foot warehouse, plus a storage room for things that must not freeze, and another storage area with freezers. The food shelf will use about 3,000 square feet of the warehouse and try to rent out the rest.

There is also a staff room, utility room, bathroom, and combination main office/board room. Much of the shelving in the storage areas was reused, and the food shelf board is working with area grocery stores to get some carts.

The bright and welcoming storefront area, where clients can select their food items, has freezer and refrigerated sections, as well as neatly labeled shelf areas.

“This is designed like a regular store model,” explained board member Pauline Garner. “When people come in, they get a shopping list and a cart. The amount of food they can get depends upon the size of their family.”

Garner noted that a family of three or more people has access to a special section of prepared meals and family shelves designed to give them more food. There’s also a section for USDA commodity products, which is income-sensitive.

“Over half of the families we serve meet those guidelines and are signed up to receive commodities,” she said. “We serve over 300 families each month and people can come in twice a month.”

Garner said that since the federal income level to be eligible for the food stamp program was lowered last year, more low-income people have a food stamp card, which they can use at regular grocery stores, so the numbers of folks they are serving at the food shelf has not grown a lot. However, she said she has noticed that they are seeing “more working-class folks who have fallen on hard times and are having trouble making ends meet.”

Garner began volunteering with the food shelf in 2004 because, she said, “I just wanted to help people in my community and get involved.”

Community Support

Giving The Herald a tour on their opening day, Garner, Leonard, and Caulfield made a point of noting that many businesses in the area help the food shelf.

For example, Shaw’s Supermarket donates all their past-dated bread and bakery items, which the food shelf keeps refrigerated. The LaPanciata Bakery in Northfield also gives the food shelf unsold bread every Saturday, and Cumberland Farms donates 300 loaves of bread every Thanksgiving and Christmas.

“Magee Office Plus helped us a lot by moving our large refrigerated display case to the new building,” Caulfield said, “and many of their employees also went up to the Vermont Food Bank to work at a sort-a-thon and then donated their credit hours to us.”

“Vermont Eco Floors of Charlotte polished the old concrete floor in our new space and did it for cost only, representing a generous in-kind donation to our project,” Leonard added. “We also had lots of people, other than our regulars, volunteer to help with the move, and Gene Woodward helped us moved six other refrigerators and freezers here last week. We’re really grateful for all the community support we get.”

The food shelf is a non-profit, non-denominational organization. Area churches play a role in helping support it, but it’s run by its own board of trustees.

“Now that we’ve moved to a larger location, the Vermont Food Bank has asked us to distribute senior commodities for this area,” Garner said.

Those were formerly distributed once a month at the Randolph Senior Center, but with the food shelf open five afternoons a week, seniors will have better access to commodity items. To receive food, people can come into the food shelf any time it’s open and speak to the volunteer on duty. They must bring an electric bill to prove where they live, or the name of their landlord, if they don’t receive a utility bill.

Regular hours at the food shelf are Monday-Friday from 3-5 p.m., and the board hopes to expand to include some evening hours. Staffing is done entirely by volunteers, and volunteers are always needed to staff the food shelf, help stock food, etc. For more information, call 802-431-0144.

Anyone who would like to make a donation may send a check (payable to the “Randolph Area Food Shelf”) to PO Box 202, Randolph, Vt. 05060. Donations may also be made online at www.randolphareafoodshelf.org. The web site is set up to take PayPal.


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