It’s something many people take for granted: the ability to cook a meal at home.  For people in need, it’s a lot tougher than it seems.

The Montpelier Food Pantry is making it easier though, with what are called ‘recipe kits.’ 

Volunteer, Liz Snell, spearheaded them a couple of years ago.  She says when it comes to folks who need a bit of help putting food on the table, she’s seen it all.

“A job is lost, an injury happens, we have people working 2 jobs and trying to make it and a car breaks down, so there are a lot of reasons why people come here,” says Snell, who has been a volunteer at the food pantry for five years.

She says she wanted to give people in need more than just one meal.  She wanted to provide them with a sense of family.

“I really like the idea of having something like, my family shares a recipe with your family,” says Snell.

The recipe kits Liz created are essentially, a complete meal in one bag.  They contain every item needed to assemble the recipe, complete with a directions sheet.

“People who don’t necessarily know how to cook, this is a nice way to learn to have them all put together because part of the difficult part of learning how to cook is assembling the ingredients,” says Executive Director Jaime Bedard.

With a recent grant from Hunger Mountain Coop for $1,100, with Liz helped write with Jaime’s help, Jaime says the recipe kits can now happen every month.  Volunteers make about 25 of them per month and they’re snatched up quickly.

“You missed our last couple of months where we had fresh chicken and fresh bacon, we were making really fancy corn chowder,” says Jaime.  “It was kind of exciting!”

This is all happening while the food pantry is serving the most customers it’s ever had.  The pantry flooded back in August of 2016.  It took about eight months to restore it.  Jaime says within that same amount of time, the need increased across the board.

“Previously, we were hitting about 500 unduplicated individuals a year, this last year was 1,000 and we’re on track to be about 1,500 this year,” says Jamie.

“I’m on an 800 dollar a month social security and I can actually live here because of places like this,” says recipient, Stephen Lobb.

Lobb says his quality of life would be much different, if it weren’t for the food pantry in his home city.

The pantry has gotten rid of its previous requirements for people who can receive food.  Jaime now only asks that recipients be from one of the towns the food pantry serves.  To find out if you qualify, or to join the group of about 50 volunteers who work at the pantry, click here.