Dec. 3, 2009
By Tim Simard
Beginning in 2010, the Williston Community Food Shelf will have a new home. Food Shelf President Deb Beckett announced Wednesday that the nonprofit organization will move to the first floor of the Cornerstone Drive office complex in Suite 115, just down the road from the Food Shelf’s current home at Maple Tree Place.
Beckett said the new location at Taft Farm Village Center offers many benefits, including first floor access and the possibility of a long-term occupation. The lease will start on Jan. 1 and run for one year, with an option for a second year, Beckett said.
“This is huge for us having the long-term opportunity there,” she said.
As of press deadline, the Food Shelf Board of Directors and Omega Real Estate Associates Inc., owners of the office complex, agreed to the lease verbally. A signed agreement will likely occur by the end of this week, Beckett said.
The lease for the Food Shelf’s current location in Maple Tree Place expires at the end of the month. The organization had been in discussions to extend the lease with Inland U.S. Management, owners of the outdoor shopping center. At the same time, the board had searched other alternatives with hopes of finding something with long-term possibilities.
Beckett was quick to praise Inland and Maple Tree Place for providing a home for the Food Shelf over the past year, calling their work “fantastic.”
“They really went out of their way to give us that space for the year and help us get started in Williston,” Beckett said.
The Food Shelf discovered the suite on Cornerstone Drive last month and began looking into its possibilities. Nicole Senecal, owner of Omega Real Estate, said she was excited to help the Food Shelf solve the problem of long-term permanency.
“We think it’s great we could get them in for next year,” Senecal said. “We’re excited about the work they do and fully support their efforts.”
The Cornerstone Drive space is roughly the same size as the Maple Tree Place location — just over 600 square feet. Beckett said the space is configured differently, but will be more than manageable.
While Beckett did not want to disclose the cost of rent, she did say it was a “very workable rent within our budget.” The rent covers the cost of utilities, she said. Monetary donations throughout the year help cover rent, Beckett said.
During its time at Maple Tree Place, the first six months of the lease were free for the Food Shelf. After that, the organization only paid utilities.
Beckett said the Food Shelf would maintain the same hours — 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Thursdays and Saturdays. She said parking wouldn’t be a problem as plenty of spaces are located around the complex.
The Food Shelf will likely move sometime after the New Year and set up regular operations shortly thereafter. Beckett said even before the Food Shelf decided on the new location, the organization had already received word from Green Mountain Coffee Roasters that employees of the company would donate their time to help with the move.
“They have an amazing volunteer policy,” Beckett said.
Once the Food Shelf is settled at Cornerstone Drive, the organization will make some other changes. Now, anyone visiting the Food Shelf can choose available items. Once it moves, Beckett said the Food Shelf will focus on helping residents in its primary towns of Williston, St. George and Richmond. She said people from other communities won’t be turned away, but will receive an emergency food box instead of being able to shop for items.
Meanwhile, donations continue to come in for the Food Shelf, though more are needed during the busy holiday season. Currently, Dorothy Alling Memorial Library is hosting an art show displaying work from the Food Shelf’s online art auction held earlier this year. Art that wasn’t purchased during the auction is for sale; all proceeds benefit the Food Shelf. The art show ends Dec. 30.
For questions regarding the Williston Community Food Shelf and donating food or money, contact the organization at 735-6303.