United Way of Lamoille County: Renovation to support Salvation Farms’ Lamoille Valley Gleaning Program

United Way of Lamoille County

2020 Update:

Through a partnership with Salvation Farms and the Lamoille County Hunger Council it was identified that space was needed to house Salvation Farms Lamoille Gleaning Program. The United Way of Lamoille County had an unused building in need of renovations that would serve the needs of this program allowing it to expand its food storage and distribution hub for the greater Lamoille Valley. This program currently serves 33 programs and organizations throughout Lamoille County. This building will also serve as a volunteer hub for the Lamoille Gleaning Program. 

Construction began in November 2019, and significant work was done to repair the concrete slab and foundation. UWLC made significant structural improvements to the building throughout December. We are currently on the home stretch of the renovation, and are pant ready starting February 18th. We expect Salvation Farms will be able to start using the space in the middle of March.

“I want to thank City Market for their investment in our community. The staff of both the United Way and Salvation Farms are excited to see the changes happing to the building every day, and has provided a level of excitement in our community over the past winter months. This project will provide many opportunities for nutritionally insecure people to have access to glean produce. It has also added a new level of awareness around other opportunities for collaboration, and what we can do as a community to make lasting impact in our community,” says Jim Curran United Way of Lamoille County’s Executive Director.

Because of the investment of $7,000 by City Market in the project we were able to start making improvements.  Once the hammers and saws started at the project we gain incredible community support, which includes many donations to the different systems of the building. The building will be energy efficient with 3.5” of closed foam insulation, all new Marvin windows. The renovation also included constructing a 10’x10’ custom built walk-in cooler, historic restoration to the exterior of building and a redesign of the electrical systems. The building looks very much the same on the outside as it did before, preserving the image of the railroad era located in Morrisville’s History District. We are excited to be able to “glean” an unused building to provide so much impact in our community!

Follow this link to take a virtual tour of the progress: https://uwlamoille.org/partnerships/renovation-to-build-food-security.html

Grant Amount $7,000

The United Way of Lamoille County was originally started to stimulate the community’s financial generosity to fund programs and initiatives in Lamoille County. Since 1987 they have evolved into an organization that develops new programs which empower people and lead them towards a life of self-sufficiency, while making them accountable for the choices they make that negatively impact their families and community, and evaluates the community’s needs through participation in local initiatives. Their mission is to advocate for the health, education and financial stability for Lamoille County families. The United Way of Lamoille County, a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, is headquartered in Morrisville, Vermont. Founded April 1987 it is a local United Way which operates many of its own programs including: New Foundations, The Lamoille Wood Bank, H.O.P.E., Teen Gift Card Program and Vermont 211. In addition, they provide funding to many local organizations.

The United Way of Lamoille County has a barn attached to their historic building in downtown Morrisville. Through a blossoming partnership with Salvation Farms, it was identified that this space can serve a critical need in building a stronger community if renovated. The building is of appropriate size for housing the infrastructure necessary for Salvation Farms' Lamoille Valley Gleaning program operational needs and service growth. However, the barn is in need of repairs and renovations before it is safe to use as a space for public service and for safe food. When repairs and renovations are complete, United Way of Lamoille County will offer this space rent free to Salvation Farms. The resulting tenant relationship will allow United Way of Lamoille County and Salvation Farms to deepen collaboration as partners, offering volunteer opportunities, healthy food to the nutritionally insecure, and hosting public events at the renovated facility.

Salvation Farms serves farmers, volunteers, and the nutritionally insecure. Their impact is felt through the nutrient dense foods made available to residents, the experiential learning opportunities provided to volunteers and eaters, and the reduction of quality food left uneaten on farms. Gleaning reaches folks of all ages and from diverse backgrounds in a variety of ways, connecting them to the food system and to local food sources. Through exposure to local farms and to the impact the global food system has on local farms, people begin to think differently about their role as an eater in the food system and the importance of local farms as sources of food.

With the proper staff and infrastructure capacity in place, the gleaning program predicts serving a minimum of twelve (12) farms, engaging at least 150 volunteers who will contribute a combined 500 hours, resulting in 60,000 pounds of edible quality, local crops being distributed to a minimum of twenty (20) sites in the Lamoille Valley. That would equate to more than 180,000 servings of fresh produce. Additionally, Salvation Farms has been working with sites like Meals on Wheels of Lamoille County to help them process gleaned produce with volunteers for freezing and use out of season. Efforts like this will continue with program staff and infrastructure stability.

Lamoille Valley Gleaning makes wholesome crops accessible to the more than 6,000 residents in the Lamoille County and surrounding area that struggle to meet their food needs. This includes some of the 3,600 individuals who access the Lamoille Community Food Share annually and the close to 200 seniors who rely daily on Meals on Wheels of Lamoille County. Lamoille Valley Gleaning consists of weekly pick-ups and field gleans at farms and farmers' markets. This involves volunteer coordination and engagement to help collect, harvest, and transport gleaned produce from farm to storage and to food access sites. Infrastructure is crucial to a successful and professional gleaning operation.

A centrally located storage facility, cooler, and work space will allow Salvation Farms to explore diversifying their distribution methods to include direct distribution of gleaned crops to income eligible community members through a free food share model. United Way of Lamoille County is eager to help make this program evolution a reality, made more possible by the renovation project and future tenant relationship.