Taking Stock: Addressing Hunger in Montpelier

By Joseph Kiefer

Community volunteers work to keep the shelves stocked with locally donated fresh, frozen, packaged, and canned food at the Montpelier Food Pantry in the basement of the Trinity Methodist Church. Photo courtesy of Joseph Kiefer.

If you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you’ve always gotten.

– Unknown

So what do you do if you lose your job and have to choose between food and fuel for winter warmth, suffer a family crisis that uses up all your savings, or separate from your partner and live alone with your children?

If you live in Montpelier the answer is simple—you can go to the Montpelier Food Pantry and get a week’s worth of food, eat a hot lunch at one of the local churches during the week, and escape the freeze at one of the warming centers from 5 to 8 pm. For overnight in the winter, Bethany Church is open seven days a week.

What we’re seeing in the Montpelier area is typical of much of the country. Churches, nonprofits, and volunteers are all pitching in and lending a hand to our neighbors in need. This failure of our government and the continuous shredding of the safety net have left communities to mostly fend for themselves. As one of the richest countries in the world, it is immoral that anyone should go hungry; not have a safe, warm place to sleep; and not have the medical attention and care we all deserve. We seem to have confused our priorities deciding that national defense and militarism are more important than defending dignity and respect for all human beings, regardless of race, religion, and sexual orientation.

The Montpelier Food Pantry for example, a program of Just Basics, Inc., has seen a tripling in need over the past three years, with more than 50 volunteers helping to organize everything from food donations to patron coordination, stocking shelves, and facilitating shopping each week—Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to noon. Yet with all this compassion and seeking of justice, we are barely staying ahead of the need and have no real organized system within the city.

From 10 am to noon on Saturday, April 27, the Food Justice Committee of Just Basics, Inc. is hosting a community conversation called “Taking Stock” at Trinity Methodist Church. During the first hour we will hear from Montpelier churches and nonprofit organizations who are on the front lines, serving lunches and evening meals and providing emergency food to our neighbors in need.

In hour two we will work in small groups to explore the following questions:

• How are we doing?

• Is it enough?

• How could we do better and more?

• How could we pool our resources together?

• What are the unmet needs at the top of your wish list?

We will close with a sharing and make a plan for next steps. Anyone interested in this conversation is welcome to attend and participate. We hope this is just the beginning of creating an organized network of churches, nonprofits, and community volunteers looking for ways to help move us from hunger relief toward food justice for all.

For more information or to RSVP for April 27, please contact josephkiefer53@gmail.com or Jaime Bedard at director@justbasicsvt.org or call (802) 375-5369.

Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter