Food Shelf moves into new location (1/7/10)

Jan. 7, 2010

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

Williston Community Food Shelf volunteer June Simmons kept busy Tuesday night, moving boxes and unloading non-perishable foods onto new shelving. Along with about 10 other volunteers, Simmons helped get the Food Shelf into working order at its new location in the Taft Farm Village Center.


    Observer photo by Tim Simard
Williston Community Food Shelf volunteer Patrick Metro fills a shelf with canned goods on Tuesday. The Food Shelf opened at its new location in the Taft Farm Village Center on Tuesday night.

She climbed over unpacked pallets and put cans of beans and vegetables on a set of storage shelving. Simmons, who has volunteered with the Food Shelf since its inception in 2008, said she’s optimistic about the site.

“I think this is a workable space,” Simmons said of the newer, smaller Food Shelf. “We’ll make it work. We always do.”

As for shoppers at the Food Shelf, it was a quiet start. By the first hour of its reopening, only four people had stopped by to pick up pre-packaged bags of food. Food Shelf President Deb Beckett said it’s generally quieter early in the month.

Over the past weekend, during the largest snowstorm on record to hit the Champlain Valley, the Food Shelf moved from Maple Tree Place to its new space. It is now housed on the first floor of the three-story office building on Cornerstone Drive, the same building as Oasis Day Spa, Artists’ Mediums and the Williston Observer office.

Late last year, Food Shelf officials started looking for a more permanent location for the organization, with longer lease options than what was available at Maple Tree Place.

Beckett found a spot in the Taft Farm Village Center. Food Shelf officials signed a one-year lease with Omega Real Estate Associates Inc., with the option for a second year. While all the Food Shelf had to pay for at Maple Tree Place was utility costs, the organization will have to pay $500 a month for the Cornerstone Drive location. That cost includes utilities.

The new spot will come with challenges, as volunteers discovered Tuesday night. The tighter, narrow room makes space a premium, but there are ideas on how to make it work. New shelving has yet to be installed in the middle of the room, which will replace the pallets on the ground. Much of the space will be used for storage, although there will be a small space for shopping. Organizers have also made room for two refrigerators that hold meat and dairy products.

“Once we have this all set up, I think it’ll work out just great,” Beckett said.

Tuesday night, all who came for food received pre-made bags of goods. As the Food Shelf reorganizes, there will be opportunity for individuals in its target towns of Williston, St. George and Essex to shop. Residents from outside those towns will continue to receive pre-packaged bags.

The Food Shelf still needs donations of food and money. On Tuesday night, the organization received $1,180 from Williston Family Eye Care. The business set aside $10 for every pair of glasses sold between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Williston Family Eye Care also collects food donations at its Williston Road location.

“We’re part of this community and we wanted to give back,” said owner Dr. Charles Cyr.

Beckett couldn’t have been happier.

“This is what keeps us going,” she said.