Statewide cycling event benefits area food shelves


Aug. 21, 2008
By Tim Simard
Observer staff

On Saturday, cyclists from Vermont and beyond gathered in Williston to raise money for the hungry. As part of the 113-mile Harpoon Point-to-Point Tour, bicyclists rode from Williston through the Green Mountains to Windsor, raising money for the Vermont Foodbank.

The Aug. 16 event also helped smaller food shelves, such as the new Williston Community Food Shelf.


    Contributed photo
‘Cyclists stand with their bikes during the Harpoon Point-to-Point Tour on Saturday, which raised money for the Vermont Foodbank. Bikers traveled 113 miles from Williston to Windsor.

According to Judy Stermer, communications specialist for the Vermont Foodbank, more than 230 cyclists took part this year, with 90 riders completing the seventh annual charity ride from Williston to the Harpoon Brewery in Windsor.

Two shorter rides were also offered — a 50-mile ride from Bethel to Windsor and a 25-mile loop ride around Windsor, beginning and ending at the brewery.

Stermer said the food bank would find out in the next month the exact amount that had been raised by the event. She said riders have a month to submit their pledges.

Stermer said $26,000 had already been raised through online contributions and the food bank was hoping to see “nearly $40,000” in donations by the end of the tally. She said $35,000 was raised last year during the Point-to-Point Tour. She added the ride is the largest single-day fundraiser for the Vermont Foodbank.

The Vermont Foodbank, a membership organization made up of food shelves and aid groups from around the state, stores food and food-related items to distribute to food shelves. It is a member of America’s Second Harvest, the country’s largest hunger-relief organization.

Stermer said the money raised in the Point-to-Point Tour goes to acquiring more food and lowering commodity costs, thus the money ends up helping organizations such as the Williston Community Food Shelf access goods.

“The food bank does whatever it can do to help out our members,” Stermer said.

Feeding Williston’s hungry

Currently, the Williston Community Food Shelf is not a member of the Vermont Foodbank, although President Jill Lang attended a Foodbank orientation at its headquarters in Barre.

Lang said as soon as the food shelf files for nonprofit organization status, it would automatically become a Vermont Foodbank member. Lang hopes to become an official nonprofit next month.

Lang said the Williston Food Shelf would pay an annual membership fee of $35 to the Vermont Foodbank. It would also have to pay 18 cents per pound of food ordered, although those costs would change in October, according to Lang.

Lang said the Vermont Foodbank plans to lower the cost of the 18-cent co-pay, but increase the annual membership. Neither Lang nor Stermer knew what the new costs would be, but both agreed charity events, including the Harpoon Point-to-Point Tour, help to lower co-pay costs for food shelves and offer more services to those who need it.

Lang said working with the food bank has been “wonderful.”

“They can’t be helpful enough in everything,” Lang said.

At the moment, the Williston Food Shelf is still without a home, although food is available on an “emergency” basis at the Town Clerk’s office or by calling Lang at the food shelf’s cell phone number, 735-6303.

Although Lang would still like to find a better alternative, a second-floor space at Maple Tree Place might be the best option for the time being, she said. While the shopping center offers ample parking, the logistics of hauling heavy packages of food to the second floor, as well as disposing of trash and recycling, could pose problems. Still, she’s happy someone in Williston has enough space.

“It’s very gracious of (Maple Tree Place) to be even talking to us,” Lang said. “But for long-term occupation, a second floor isn’t ideal.”

For information about registering with the Williston Community Food Shelf or how to obtain emergency food, contact Jill Lang at 735-6303.