Williston Food Shelf celebrates grand opening11/20/08

Nov. 20, 2008
By Tim Simard
Observer staff

Thanks to the perseverance and dedication of Williston resident Jill Lang, who recognized a need in town, the Williston Community Food Shelf has become a reality, holding its official grand opening over the weekend.

More than 30 community members and representatives for area food shelves gathered in the 688-square-foot room in Maple Tree Place to dedicate the new food shelf. Also on hand during the ribbon cutting were Gov. Jim Douglas and his wife, Dorothy


    Observer photo by Marianne Apfelbaum
Williston resident Cathy Michaels and her son Evan give Gov. Jim Douglas and his wife, Doroth, a tour of the Williston Community Food Shelf at its grand opening ceremony on Saturday, Nov. 8.

“It’s been amazing and I’m so happy this community cares so much,” said Lang, who serves as president of the Williston Community Food Shelf.

The food shelf officially opened on Nov. 1, but had its grand opening and ribbon cutting on Nov. 15.

Town Clerk Deb Beckett helped conduct the proceedings and showered Lang with praise for her dedication.

“She had the passion and zeal, and energy and enthusiasm — more than I’d ever seen before,” Beckett said.

Beckett also praised officials from Inland U.S. Management, the owners of Maple Tree Place, for donating the space for the initial six-month period.

“Inland management graciously stepped up to the plate,” Beckett said.

Inland Vice President Bill Parks and Maple Tree Place Property Manager Richard Golder were on hand to accept an award presented by the food shelf. Parks said the shopping center was an important part of the community and Inland wanted to help out as best it could.

“We hope it works well for everyone through the winter months,” Parks said.

Awards were also handed out to businesses and individuals who had contributed through donations or through proceeds for the recent Williston Eats Out benefit.

Before going on a tour of the food shelf, Gov. Douglas spoke to the gathering. He said the food shelf would be a big help for families in need during the coming months of economic uncertainty.

“This is a tough time and I think everybody understands that,” Douglas said. “It’s going to take an effort from all Vermonters to help.”

Doug Gunnerson, who helps run the Hinesburg Food Shelf, agreed it will take a lot of help this winter to meet the growing demand for food. He said the Hinesburg Food Shelf’s record number of families helped in one day was 30, and that happened Friday.

Gunnerson said he expects the Hinesburg and Williston food shelves to work together helping families.

“It’ll certainly give families more resources,” Gunnerson said.

Lang said the Williston Community Food Shelf saw four families in the morning before the grand opening and has served a total of 40 families in the two weeks it has been open. Concerns about the food shelf’s location in a public place aren’t an issue anymore, she said.

“And our hours are better and more convenient for a lot of people,” Lang said.

Vermont Foodbank Network Relations Manager Joe Dauscher said the Williston Community Food Shelf’s numbers are encouraging for the amount of support it can provide.

“It’s a good sign that people feel comfortable coming here,” Dauscher said.

The Williston Community Food Shelf is open 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. For more information, call 735-6303.

Busy times at Hinesburg Food Shelf

The Williston Community Food Shelf is not the only area organization gearing up for the busy winter months.

The Hinesburg Food Shelf, which serves some Williston residents and is located in the Hinesburg United Church, is collecting turkeys for Thanksgiving. Many have been provided by the Shelburne-Charlotte-Hinesburg Rotary, Hannaford and Lantman’s Best Yet Market, but the food shelf is in need of more birds.

Furthermore, a $10 donation will help the food shelf provide accompaniments for a turkey dinner.

Last month the food shelf provided more than 7,000 pounds of food to 87 families, and co-director Doug Gunnerson said the food shelf serves 90 families a month.

“Funds are tight, much of our funding comes in at this time of the year,” Gunnerson said. “Supplies cost more and we need more for the increasing demand.”

To volunteer or donate turkeys, call co-directors Doug Gunnerson at 482-3069 or Laurie Sweeney at 482-5519.