HOPE renews call for food shelf donations

MIDDLEBURY — Officials at the organization Helping Overcome Poverty’s Effects, or HOPE, are renewing their call for food shelf donations that will be critical in feeding Addison County’s low-income residents until locally organized food drives replenish the cupboards later this fall.
Jeanne Montross, executive director of HOPE, first made the pitch in August — a time when food reserves are typically low. Unfortunately, that appeal didn’t resonate as well as Montross had hoped.
“This is as bare as I’ve ever seen the food shelf at this time of year,” said Montross, who’s led HOPE for more than two decades.
HOPE officials noted while some Americans are doing well in the current economy, others are not — particularly those who are out of work or on fixed incomes. The Middlebury nonprofit provided enough free food for almost 19,000 meals during the period of July 1 to Sept. 30 of this year, according to Montross.
With few food donations coming in, HOPE is having to use more of its limited funds to buy groceries for the food shelf.
Montross noted the organization has spent $10,157 so far this year on food reserves. That’s up from the $5,811 HOPE had spent through early October of last year. HOPE buys from the Vermont Food Bank, whose inventories of canned and boxed foods are also very low, according to Montross.
“I’m concerned,” she said.
The HOPE food shelf is currently serving an average of around 700 people per month.
Montross expects things will improve by Thanksgiving, when food drive proceeds come in, but that’s still six weeks away. So she’s asking folks to consider a cash contribution or to drop off non-perishable food, in particular canned beans (black, kidney, refried), canned vegetables and fruits, fruit juice, flavored rice and baking mixes.
“We need food now,” Montross said. “People can bring it to HOPE, they can do a food drive and call us for a pickup if they have a lot, and they can drop items in the bin at Hannaford Supermarket or at Shaw’s in Middlebury.”
If people prefer to donate money for food, they can mail a check to HOPE at 282 Boardman St., Middlebury, VT 05753, or give online through the organization’s website, hope-vt.org.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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