by Robin Reid
As fiscal belts tighten across the nation, more families and individuals—the elderly in particular—are finding it difficult to make household ends meet. Food shelves have long been part of our community fabric and efforts to feed the hungry in the area.
Shelburne has relied on Val Martel for nearly 30 years to run its local food shelf. St. Catherine’s Methodist Church recruited Val and her husband Rene to start a food shelf in town. They ran the Shelburne Food Shelf together until Rene passed away about 10 years ago. Since then, Dave Leland has been Val’s right hand man. Word of mouth is the primary resource for identifying families and individuals who will benefit from the food shelf. Martel points to a growing need for these services and is concerned about the U.S. economic future, particularly among the working poor.
Consequently, Martel works closely with the Shelburne Community School (SCS) staff to locate families in need. She also provides students with opportunities to learn about the importance of a local food shelf. SCS students often hold food drives and sometimes deliver from the school with their canned donations directly to the food shelf, located on the ground floor in the Shelburne Town Office building.
While Shelburne hasn’t needed volunteers for food shelf duties and deliveries, Martel praises the community for their contributions and support of this vital service. The Shelburne Supermarket, for example, consistently steps up to contribute to area food shelves. Additionally, Martel expressed her gratitude to The Shelburne News for garnering town support when needed. She said that she puts out the call when the food shelf needs support and the whole town helps out. As she ended the interview, Martel provided a quote, author unknown, “Service to others is the rent we pay for our time on Earth.”