March is National Nutrition Month and we’re posting a series of blogs that focus on nutrition within our networks. You can also learn about our programs here.

This is a guest post from Sally Metro with the Williston Community Food Shelf.

We are the Williston Community Food Shelf.  A year ago we started a program (inspired by the Vermont Foodbank’s VT Fresh Program) called the Fresh Initiative.  The program was run by a volunteer named Marie Gray.  Marie is moving away this year, but we have another volunteer who will be taking over the program.Williston Community Food ShelfOur Fresh Initiative was intended to present fresh fruits and vegetables to our customers in the hopes of encouraging healthy eating.  Since last January, we have presented one or two items, often one fruit and one vegetable, each month. Along with the produce, Marie has created a nutritional handout for each item.  The flyer has one page of nutritional information followed by 4-6 recipes for that food. We chose to have only recipes with 5-6 simple ingredients whenever possible.  During that month volunteers made one of the recipes and presented samples to our customers, encouraging them to use the recipes.

Marie shared a story that happened one night when she was leading the shift. “As I make a habit of doing with everyone I sign in to shop, during my January (2015) shift I asked an older female customer if she would like a copy of the Food of the Month informational handout. Many customers gladly take the handout when offered, but this particular customer exclaimed, ‘Oh yes, please!  I wouldn’t want to miss it!’ She then went on to share with me that she has been using many of the recipes included in the handouts to help her lose weight, and that she has lost over 70 pounds in the past year!  I was thrilled for her, of course, and at the same time I was humbled by such remarkable evidence that the Fresh Initiative is helping our customers make healthier food choices and, therefore, is ultimately helping them to live healthier lives.”

Williston Community Food ShelfAdditionally, Marie made a connection with one of the Williston Hannaford nutritionists who was able to come to one of our evening shifts to talk about nutrition.  She prepared a dish with our monthly food item to demonstrate and sample to the customers. She gave out recipes as well. The customers all greatly enjoyed her presentation.

We continue to be committed to this program and are looking forward to another year of fresh produce. In the spring last year, we began a relationship with the Adams Farm Market in Williston.  John Adams owns this family-run business and he grows much of the produce that they sell during the spring and summer seasons.  They have sold produce to us at cost.  We look forward to another year of working with them to obtain their very fresh and wonderful produce.

Learn more about the Williston Community Food Shelf here.