Food Shelf opens in Maple Tree Place10/23/08

Oct. 23, 2008

By Tim Simard

Observer staff

The Williston Community Food Shelf will no longer operate out of Jill Lang’s garage.


    Observer photo by Tim Simard
Boxes of donated food wait to be placed on shelves at the Williston Community Food Shelf’s new location in Maple Tree Place.

The nonprofit organization has found a home at the Maple Tree Place shopping center, and is scheduled to open on Saturday, Nov. 1.

Lang, the president of the Williston Community Food Shelf, is “incredibly happy” to find a stable base of operations and a large space needy families can visit for assistance.

“It’s the biggest food shelf I’ve seen,” Lang said. “And it has such a wonderful view.”

Located on the second floor in the building above the Asian Bistro and Belle’s Café, the food shelf overlooks the Shaw’s parking lot and the Green Mountains. It is accessible to the public by elevator and has plenty of space for food donations.

Bill Parks, vice president of Inland U.S. Management, the Illinois-based company that owns Maple Tree Place, said the space is being donated rent free through early next year. He said the contract would be reevaluated in the spring, and hopes the partnership between the food shelf and Maple Tree Place can be long and successful.

“We firmly believe Maple Tree Place is very much part of the community,” Parks said. “We wanted an opportunity to give back in these economically unfriendly times.”

On Monday morning, boxes of food and water were scattered in the 688 square-foot room. Shelves were piled in a corner, ready to be assembled and filled with items. Lang said the shelves came from a Shaw’s in Bristol that was switching out its units.

Refrigeration units and a freezer are due to be installed in the coming weeks, but might not be up and running for the Nov. 1 opening.

“We might not be able to give out perishables right away,” Lang said.

Lang also said donations continue to pour in, and the food shelf received 4,000 pounds of food on Friday from a charity in Utica, N.Y. The food shelf only had to pay for truck rental and fuel.

The large shipment would help the food shelf get off to the right start, Lang said. She said the food shelf still needs more donations and would start receiving regular shipments from the Vermont Foodbank in November.

Fundraisers are in the process of being scheduled for the rest of the year, starting with a community-wide “Williston Eats Out” on Tuesday, Oct. 28. Participating restaurants will give 10 percent of the day’s proceeds to the food shelf.

Other restaurants are planning to help in other capacities. The incoming Texas Roadhouse will donate proceeds from a future Friday and Saturday night bar tab. The Longhorn Steakhouse is looking into donating meats, and other restaurants are donating gift certificates for a raffle at next month’s Williston Central School craft fair.

Lang said the food shelf will primarily help needy families in Williston, St. George and Richmond, but would serve other communities if necessary.

The food shelf will be open on Tuesdays from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Lang said the hours will be adjusted if necessary. She also said community members who want to volunteer to work at the food shelf or in some other capacity, such as making home deliveries, should call the food shelf at 735-6303. She said she’s already had a large outpouring of help in recent months.

“I just open my mouth and people come and help,” Lang said.

A grand opening is scheduled for Dec. 6 and Gov. Jim Douglas has already confirmed he will be attendance, Lang said.

To donate money or food to the Williston Community Food Shelf, contact the food shelf at P.O. Box 1605, Williston, Vt., 05495 or 802-735-6303. Residents can also call to register for food with the food shelf. Registration forms are also in this week’s School Bell.

Williston Eats Out

The following restaurants will participate in next Tuesday’s Williston Eats Out to benefit the Williston Community Food Shelf by donating 10 percent of that day’s proceeds:

Belle’s Café

Dunkin’ Donuts in Simon’s Mobil

Garden of Eatin’

Mexicali Authentic Mexican Grill

Old Brick Café


Ponderosa Steakhouse