Food Shelf Gets Fresher

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Front Page / Mar. 16, 2017 9:02am EDT

Catamount Helps Out, Builds Veggie Cooler


Jacob Hatch and Nathan Giles of Randolph-based Catamount Solar are constructing a walk-in vegetable cooler for the Randolph Area Food Shelf. A workers’ co-operative, Catamount Solar is donating the refrigerator as part of their commitment to give 5% of their profits to central Vermont non-profits. More than $73,000 was given to 23 organizations in 2016. (Herald / Bob Eddy) Jacob Hatch and Nathan Giles of Randolph-based Catamount Solar are constructing a walk-in vegetable cooler for the Randolph Area Food Shelf. A workers’ co-operative, Catamount Solar is donating the refrigerator as part of their commitment to give 5% of their profits to central Vermont non-profits. More than $73,000 was given to 23 organizations in 2016. (Herald / Bob Eddy) More fresh veggies are on the horizon for the Randolph Area Food Shelf (RAFS).

Several years ago, RAFS became aware of the need for a cold storage area for produce.

Plans were available online from the University of Kentucky for a low-cost, high-efficiency moveable unit. The food shelf applied to Randolph’s Catamount Solar to be considered for one of its local grants. Not only did Catamount award the food shelf the money needed for the materials; it also offered to provide the construction.

The storage unit is a walk-in, super insulated, 6x8x8-foot box and should enable the RAFS to keep produce fresh and available for longer stretches of time than has been possible in the past. The unit will be cooled by an ordinary window air conditioner with a special control to keep the temperature range 40º- 60º F, depending on what is being stored.

The food shelf regularly receives a lot of produce donations during the summer months when warehouse temperatures at RAFS warm into the mid-70°s or higher. This produce mostly consists of the types of vegetables grown in overabundance by home gardeners, e.g. cucumbers, squash, tomatoes, and beans.

Looking to CSAs

This summer, RAFS hopes to expand its offerings to include strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, sweet corn, peas, and other more labor-intensive and perishable fruits and vegetables.

To achieve this goal, RAFS is planning to use money raised by its Sufficient Food For All Walk event to purchase CSA shares from local farms—a plan that will benefit both area businesses and food shelf clients.

This year’s walk-athon will be on Saturday, June 24. Information on how to join in or volunteer to help will appear in The Herald closer to the time.

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