Anore Horton (in blue), of Hunger Free Vermont, gives a hug and a certificate of appreciation to Carmen Derby, who stepped down Wednesday at the co-chair
Anore Horton (in blue), of Hunger Free Vermont, gives a hug and a certificate of appreciation to Carmen Derby, who stepped down Wednesday at the co-chair of Hunger Council of Windham County. (Domenic Poli/Reformer)

BRATTLEBORO -- The announcement of Carmen Derby's replacement seemed to come as a pleasant surprise to many of those at Wednesday's meeting of the Hunger Council of Windham County.

Derby stepped down as the council's co-chair after four years in the position and Lisa Pitcher, who helped run the meeting, told the 26 other attendees that Katherine Jandernoa will take her spot. Anore Horton, of Hunger Free Vermont, commended Derby's commitment to the cause and presented her with a certificate of appreciation that was met with a round of applause.

"Time flies," she told the Reformer after the meeting on the second floor of the Marlboro College Graduate Center. "It was wonderful. It was very rewarding. It was great to come together and really take a look at the issue of hunger and decide as a council what we were going to focus on."

Derby works for the United Way of Windham County and said she will still be involved with the council.

Lisa Pitcher, the other co-chair, said the Hunger Council of Windham County meets every other month for a panel and discussion on fixing food insecurity in the area. Representatives from various organizations dedicated to battling hunger attend each meeting. Vermont state Rep. John Moran, D-Windham Bennington, was also in attendance Wednesday.

Jandermoa, of Food Connects, an organization that aims to cultivate healthy food and farm connections in classrooms and cafeterias throughout Windham County, kicked off the meeting by discussing challenges with recruitment.


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She told everyone she has been hesitant to reach out to farmers and food producers because most are extremely busy, as it is the middle of farming season. She suggested inviting them to panel discussions in the winter, when they have more availability, and people at Wednesday's meeting appeared to be supportive of the idea.

People also seemed pleased that Jandermoa had agreed to replace Derby.

Kira Sawyer-Hartigan, representing the Windham Southeast Supervisory Union, gave an update on the Brattleboro summer meals kick-off picnic. She said June 21 provided perfect weather and about 25 children and 50 to 60 community volunteers met on the lawn of the Green Street School for lives music and a day of fun. She also said about 140 books were collected for the children to bring home with them.

Panelist Kristina Israel, of the Putney Co-op, quickly mentioned she is determined to destroy the stereotype that co-ops are elitist.

"We are in our communities out of necessity," she stressed.

Panelist Lucie Fortier, of the Brattleboro Area Drop-In Center, talked about strategies for getting healthier food donations. She said she hopes donors can be sensitive to the fact that many clients have diabetes or high blood pressure and items such as natural juices and no-salt vegetables would be greatly appreciated. She mentioned, however that more and more gluten-free products have been coming in lately.

The next meeting of the Hunger Council of Windham County is scheduled for Sept. 17.

Domenic Poli can be reached at dpoli@reformer.com, or 802-254-2311, ext. 277. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoli_reformer.