In 2005/06, Genesis Church of the Brethren began a food pantry at their church on Kimball Hill in Putney. When the church closed in 2008, Matt Wright and Gino Palmeri, from Putney Friends Meeting, moved the food shelf to the Putney Community Center and continued serving the hungry until 2010 when a new group of volunteers began helping after a Putney Transition Forum on food shelves. Annik Paul, one of those volunteers, used the Putney Foodshelf as her Capstone project for her Master’s degree, entitled Planning and Designing a Sustainable Volunteer-Based Organization: The Putney Foodshelf. With Susan Kochinskas, the two began the behind-the-scenes infrastructure planning to strengthen the organization.
Work was begun to apply for the Foodshelf’s nonprofit status. A committee of Emily Zervas, Kelli Moran and Susan Kochinskas met regularly, working on filing necessary papers, creating bylaws, and applying for the federal 501(c)(3) status. With advice from John Barnet, retired lawyer, the Foodshelf submitted the application. They were granted 501(c)(3) status in July 2014.
With this new status, they began the separation of oversight from the Putney Community Center (PCC). The PCC had been offering umbrella nonprofit status, serving as fiscal agent, as well as offering free space for the food shelf.
The new volunteer group held their first annual planning meeting in January 2012, with 10 attendees. A mission statement was written and accepted, which continues to guide us in our work today: “to provide supplemental healthy food for area people in need.”
With bylaws in place, the first board of directors was elected: Susan Kochinskas, president; Leigh Brady, secretary; Annik Paul, treasurer; Kelli Moran and Vern Cope, general members.
Annik Paul moved north, handing the treasurer position over to Conni Hollis in 2014. She brought good financial oversight and protocols to our operation. Donna Dawson, our first volunteer coordinator, stepped down, and Lani Wharton stepped in as our group of volunteers grew. The board made the volunteer coordinator a board position, keeping the overall board at 5 members.
Conni Hollis left the board in 2016, after providing us with much-needed financial protocols. Leigh Brady assumed responsibility for the financial overhaul of the books creating solid financial program and structure to work from. Lani Wharton stepped down in 2016, and Hannah Pick, our coordinator, assumed volunteer management. Nancy Olson, a four-year volunteer, joined the board in January 2017, and Robyn O’Brien, our first community-member board member, joined in March 2017.
Susan Kochinskas stepped down as board president in June 2017 and continued in an advisory position through the transition. Nancy Olson, after thoughtfully dipping her toes into all aspects of the Foodshelf over the past few years, stepped into the role of president.
The board is working on policy governance and continuing to manage the Foodshelf in this next phase of succession. Current board members include: Laura Chapman, Robyn O’Brien, Nancy Olson, and Ellen Strong.
Community members interested in getting involved on a board level should contact the Foodshelf.