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Residents' Food Insecurity Rising

by Ken Signorello & Irene Wrenner

December 13, 2020


At the December 7th Selectboard meeting, resident Lorraine Zaloom noted that local food shelves are seeing increased demand, and she repeated her query from the last meeting about the impact of COVID on local business. The Selectboard didn’t have a ready answer.


To get a better read on how the economic downturn has impacted our community, the Retorter surveyed three food shelves that serve Essex residents.


Their data indicates more and more of our neighbors need help to keep their families fed. 


The Heavenly Food Pantry, based at the First Congregational Church of Essex Junction, has seen a steady increase in clients this fall, according to the Rev. Mark Mendes. 


His organization is not alone. Demand is up at Aunt Dot’s Place in Essex Center and the Essex-Jericho-Underhill Food Shelf in Jericho, both of whose statistics show a growing number of clients served over the past 23 months.

COVID has changed how food shelves operate. Clients who might have shopped indoors last year, selecting a favorite cereal or spaghetti sauce off the shelf, now receive pre-bagged goods, brought out to their cars. This lack of choice clearly hasn’t dimmed the food shelves’ popularity.

Fortunately, supply has kept up with increasing demand thus far. Phyllis, data keeper at EJU, says, “Our community has been very generous, with monetary donations, food donations, and volunteer help. We have ample food stores at the moment.”

Agile volunteers from Essex and Richmond helped sort food donations at Good Shepherd Church on 12/11/20

Most area food shelves could use more volunteer help with food pickup, sorting or distribution, if you are not particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.


Please get in touch with them as follows:


Aunt Dot’s Place:


Essex Jericho Underhill Food Shelf:


Heavenly Food Pantry:

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