In the spring of 2013, the Foodshelf partnered with Putney Family Services to create a Family Food Bag program serving 6 families (13 children), sending home a back pack filled with food for a family for the weekend. This program continued until summer of 2018, providing food for the weekend, serving between 5 and 10 families (50–55 people), primarily those without transportation to access the Foodshelf. Many of our volunteers for this program came from the Outreach Team at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Brattleboro, coming to Putney weekly to assemble the bags of food that went home with the students on the bus Fridays.
The fall of 2018 this program was retooled into an actual food pantry, called Food4Kids (F4K), at Putney Central School. During the 2018–2019 school year, F4K served approximately 127 students each week (about 71% of the entire student body). 9,727 pounds of food (some purchased, some free) was collected and distributed along with 889 pounds of produce. The program is free and open to all PCS students.
We believe people have the right to access food and to be nourished, and that students are able to learn best when they have full stomachs. By providing food in a safe, empowering and respectful way, we are inviting all students to take part in addressing their nutritional needs.
F4K offers food access to all students once per week and gives them the opportunity to choose the foods they’d like to eat and feel they can prepare themselves. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks are available. The food is kid-friendly, easy to prepare, delicious and nutritious. Foods offered are a mix of staples including, but not limited to, tuna, peanut butter, pasta, canned vegetables, and soup.
As an organization supported entirely by donations, we write grants to help the Putney Foodshelf afford what we need. We have been awarded the Agnes M. Lindsay grant twice for refrigerators and freezers. We have used three Vermont Fresh grants to help us deal with fresh produce coming into the Foodshelf. We have built produce display racks with storage, bought rolling bins and attained a mobile kitchen. We promote healthy eating! We run monthly Food Demos the last Saturday of the month, showcasing how to prepare in simple ways whatever produce we have in abundance. Anyone in the community is welcome to come, discuss, taste-test, or even run our food demos!
In partnership with the Vermont Foodbank, we run a Food Drop on the fourth Thursday of every month, reaching some of those who cannot make it to the Foodshelf. Fresh produce and some nonperishables are unloaded and distributed at Putney Meadows. About 40+ households are served with minimal overlap with Foodshelf recipients. As with the Foodshelf open hours, the Food Drop is open to all, not just Putney residents.
We are an active member of the Healthy Harvest Network. We distribute locally grown fresh foods and donations to our 7 area food shelves. This is a powerful partnership — food gets delivered weekly. We share our food when we have too much, we learn from one another, and we support one another.