The Missisquoi Food Pantry partners with the Foodbank to feed the community, a guest blog post by Lester Lampman
This summer the Missisquoi Food Pantry in Swanton, VT became a network partner of the Vermont Foodbank. They are fighting hunger and providing valuable services to people in their community struggling to make ends meet. Today’s guest blog post written by their President, Lester Lampman, tells the story of their organization and the difference they are making in the lives of their neighbors.
The Missisquoi Food Pantry is part of the Maquam Bay of Missisquoi Inc. which has an office within the Abenaki Tribal Building. Our organization works with many agencies to provide meals for our larger community. One does not have to be a member of the Abenaki tribe to be served from our Food Pantry. We have partnered with Vermont Associates and have a part time coordinator who is now managing the Food Pantry. We have been working with Vermont Foodbank for more than two years since we started our Food Pantry, but recently became an official “network partner” of the Foodbank. We just received our first truckload of fresh vegetables and the Foodbank’s drivers were friendly and helpful. With the support of community volunteers, we served that produce to more than 84 families who were struggling to afford fresh food.
On a monthly basis we serve 238 families, including 753 individuals per month. We have been running our food pantry for two years and are thrilled to now be a network partner of the Foodbank. The extra food they help us provide makes all the difference in the lives of families in our community. The families we work with are especially grateful for the fresh fruits and vegetables we offer.
The Abenaki at Missisquoi have been running a food shelf for almost forty years, working with many Vermont agencies. We have three staff who work under Vermont Associates. Our organization houses a Department of Labor program, and a space for Adult Basic Ed and Voices against Violence. And we are fortunate to have to support of our community – the Swanton Postal Workers Food Drive recently donated 1800 pounds of food to our pantry. This is a big help for the families we serve.
We have several initiatives that focus on healthy food. In the summer we work with the Healthy Foods Network to bring in a variety of vegetables to serve Franklin and Grand Isle Counties. We have also partnered with UVM Extension to offer cooking classes to the community. We received a small grant that is providing families with gift cards to plant their own vegetables, this is the second year for this project. Following this we will also be offering canning classes on how to naturally preserve vegetables and make them last through the winter months.
We receive about 4500 pounds of food per year from the Foodbank. It makes a big difference, especially during the summer months when more families turn to us since their kids aren’t receiving lunch at school. The week school got out, we saw an increase of ten new families coming to us for help. Being able to access this food is so helpful for the Abenaki community which has struggled with poverty for many generations. It is important to all of us who work or volunteer at the Missisquoi Food Pantry to be able to step up to help all families in our community when they are struggling to afford food.
Our Native community values helping others, and we are happy to be able to serve the our neighbors.