SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. – For years, families in South Burlington dealing with food insecurity had limited options inside the city to access a food shelf. Now, thanks to the efforts of volunteers and community leaders, that’s about to change.
A vacant building on Dorset Street once used as a bread distribution warehouse will soon be a new food shelf. A group of faith-influenced leaders that meet in the several times a month saw a need in the community and were able to lease the building for a low monthly rate.
“We kind of became aware that there wasn’t a scale-level food shelf in South Burlington,” said Patrick Leduc, President of the Faith Influenced Leaders Corporation. “We have Common Roots which hosts a small food pantry, but for a city of about 19,000 people, we didn’t have a food shelf and so we said as people of faith and leaders in our community, this is something that we need to take on.”
The issue of food insecurity in South Burlington is widespread. City Manager Kevin Dorn said the month of August is often when its felt most, with kids being out of school for several months and families struggling to keep food on the table.
“I think you’re looking at numbers in excess of 30 percent of students system-wide who may qualify,” Dorn said. “Then there’s a lot of students who are on the border as well, so if you extrapolate from that, there’s a pretty good segment of our community that has some level of food insecurity.”
Much of the demolition needed on the inside of the building has already been taken care of, but the city is looking for volunteers to help with the rest.
“We’re going to have a whole community gathering a couple of work days for painting and scraping and making the place look as dignified and positive,” Leduc said.
The South Burlington Food Shelf is expected to open in September, and a website with more details on how to get involved will be created sometime next month.