T he Poultney Food Shelf is trying to make sure the area’s residents don’t go hungry during the upcoming holiday season and organizers are hoping to enlist the help of local citizens as they seek to re-stock their pantry.
The Poultney Area Chamber of Commerce in cooperation with the Poultney Food Shelf will hold a weekend long food drive on Saturday, Nov. 13, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 14, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Stonebridge, located near the intersection of Beaman, Grove, Main and East Main streets.
Anyone who donates a non-perishable food item the weekend of Nov. 13 and 14 will receive a complimentary Poultney Town Guide and map of the Poultney area.
“It’s just an initiative we’re (the Chamber of Commerce) doing to help the food shelf in time for the holidays,” said Chamber member Bill Corbin, who explained that although he doesn’t work for the food shelf, he’s glad to lend a helping hand when it’s needed.
Corbin said Chamber members will be present at the Stonebridge next weekend helping collect people’s non-perishable food items.
“People can just pull up and we’ll help collect their donations,” he said.
Volunteers will collect any non-perishable food items although they prefer more complete foods that contain protein.
“Things like peanut butter go a long way,” Corbin said.
According to food shelf board member Natalie Casco, other things they could use include cereal, canned fruit and vegetables, tuna fish, soup, jelly, pasta and pasta sauces, pork and beans, and canned meats.
The Food Shelf is under greater stress this year than in the past because of economic conditions that are slow to improve.
“More and more people, because of the times, are in need of food,” Corbin said.
According to director Kathy Hutson, the food shelf saw a 30 to 35 percent increase in use during the 2009 year and although numbers have yet to be quantified for 2010, there has been an increase this year as well.
“We’re seeing more working families,” Hutson said. “The economy has been hard on everyone.”
She said the food shelf usually experiences a slowdown in the summer but that didn’t happen this year.
The problem is exacerbated by the fact that those same economic conditions that have increased the demand placed upon the food shelf have also contributed to a decline in donations.
“Because of the economy, monetary donations and donations of food are down,” Casco said.
“It’s a vicious cycle,” added Corbin.
The Poultney Food Shelf services three communities in the Lakes Region: Poultney, Middletown Springs, and Hampton, N.Y.
The entity is considered an emergency food shelf meaning they try to supply three days, or nine meals, worth of food to local families.
The Food Shelf is open from 3 to 5 p.m. every Tuesday. Anyone who would like to make a donation but can’t make it the weekend of Nov. 13 and 14 is encouraged to stop by the food shelf then. There are also several collection bins located throughout town where people can donate food and people can even leave bags of food in front of the Stonebridge.
For more information, call the Poultney Area Chamber of Commerce at 287-2010 or the Poultney Food Shelf at 287-9558.