CHESTER, Vt. – What does it take to provide over 100 households with supplemental food during the holiday season? For the Chester-Andover Family Center Food Shelf, it takes a community effort. Throughout the pandemic, since early March and leading up to the holiday season, the family center has been the recipient of many donations. A week has not gone by without a donation check or food items being dropped off at the center. We are very grateful for the generosity of so many who have helped keep the CAFC Food Shelf open and fully stocked with shelf stable and fresh food throughout these challenging times. We thank you for your monetary and food donations.
According to Hunger Free Vermont, in February 2020, prior to the pandemic, one in 10 Vermonters experienced hunger or food insecurity. By the end of March, that increased to one in three. Due to the pandemic response and CARES funding, Vermont saw a small but significant decrease in June 2020 to one in four Vermonters experiencing hunger or food insecurity. Food shelves throughout Vermont work tirelessly to address food insecurity by providing access to nutritious food.
While the broader mission of the Chester-Andover Family Center is to make a difference in our community by providing resources for financial assistance, supplemental, nutritional food, affordable clothing and household goods, a priority during the pandemic has been to provide reliable, consistent access to fresh food for our Food Shelf recipients.
In November and December, food drives sponsored by Chester Helping Hands, Andover Mountaineer Snow Riders, and Katsiroubous Produce donated over 1,000 pounds of shelf stable food items. Chester Helping Hands also donated 239 pounds of Christmas hams. Katsiroubous Produce donated over 2,000 pounds of fresh produce and set up a link to their website that helps friends of the Family Center donate produce boxes every week. Over 500 pounds of produce have been donated through the Katsiroubous website since November. Sometimes, it is simply a group of concerned citizens who want to make a difference. A group in Windham coordinated by Pat McLain conducted a food drive for us and delivered over 130 pounds of shelf stable food. These food drives take a group effort, and we are grateful to the community volunteers who organize them. Thank you.
We also want to recognize and thank the Vermont Foodbank. As a VFB Network partner, the CAFC has received hundreds of pounds of fresh food at no or minimal cost to the Family Center. In addition to food, we are also grateful for their technical assistance and grant opportunities related to Covid-19.
Shaw’s in Springfield, through their Turkey Bucks Program, donated 24 turkey boxes at Thanksgiving. This donation helped us meet the goals of our Turkey Drive. We thank all who contributed to this community effort sponsored by Shaw’s.
This is much to be thankful for. The board of the Chester-Andover Family Center looks forward to a pandemic-free new year as we continue our work in support of those in our community who need our help. Thank you for being our partner in this work.
Please tell friends and family about our Food Shelf and Financial Assistance Programs. If you or someone you know needs our help, they can call us at 802-875-3236 and leave a message. A Family Center volunteer will return their call. You can also find out more about the CAFC at our website, www.chester-andoverfamilycenter.org.