Putney Foodshelf hires first-ever coordinator


PUTNEY >> As of Sept. 1, Hannah Pick has joined the Putney Foodshelf, becoming its first-ever paid part-time coordinator.

Up to now, the Foodshelf has been totally volunteer-run. Pick will assume responsibility for coordinating volunteers to staff the Foodshelf's several activities to help fulfill its mission of providing healthy supplemental food for area people in need.

Those activities include open hours (Tuesday evenings from 6 to 7 p.m. and Saturday mornings from 9 to 10 a.m.); food drives, such as Top the Truck; the Family Food Bag program, which serves 10 families (approximately 50 individuals) at Putney Central School, who receive a bag of food on Fridays to assure adequate nutrition over the weekend; and encouraging people to participate in gleaning sessions at local vegetable farms. (Gleaning is the process of going through a field after the commercial harvest of the crop and collecting what is left.)

"I'd been looking for work that would mesh well with my family life, now that I have a young child," Pick said. "Also, personally, I really like being of service. I like my daily work to feel worthwhile, especially if it means time away from my daughter."

Pick grew up in Putney, attended Putney Central School and Brattleboro Union High School, before graduating from The Putney School. After a couple of years in college, she decided to "stop out" and do something else for a while. As an Americorps volunteer, she worked for two years at Camphill Soltane in Pennsylvania, a school that provides educational and therapeutic support in a residential farm setting for people with developmental disabilities. There, Pick developed a deep appreciation for the human spirit and its capacity for growth, and for the value of service.

After returning to Vermont, Pick worked at various gardens and farms, and completed her degree, graduating from Union Institute & University in 2008. She worked at Vermont Foodbank for three years, first as Southern Vermont Field Representative, coordinating the gleaning program. Then her role expanded to Gleaning and Community Outreach Coordinator, responsible for the fresh food programming in the southern Vermont region. More recently, she has worked for Windham Farm and Food, a program of Food Connects, where she coordinated sales and delivery of fresh local foods to hospitals, restaurants and schools.

The board of directors at the Putney Foodshelf decided to hire someone part-time because the demands of running the program had increased.

"The idea to hire a part-time coordinator came about as several board members looked at how much time it was taking to run the Putney Foodshelf," said Sue Kochinskas, board chair. "It takes more than 26 volunteer hours a week to provide two open hours a week. In 2015, the Putney Foodshelf served more than 6,310 people, representing an unduplicated total of 75 +/- households. The time demands were beginning to burn out valuable members of our organization."

The board advertised for a detail-oriented person with strong interpersonal communication skills, Kochinskas said, as well as internet savvy, familiarity with Excel and QuickBooks, and the ability to work independently.

"This person is a behind-the-scenes coordinator," Kochinskas said. "They will be managing all of the sign-ups for our Open Hours, and all of the various jobs that keep the Foodshelf humming. So, managing volunteers and interacting with the public are key elements to the position."

Having worked at the Vermont Foodbank — the Putney Foodshelf is a Foodbank partner — Pick was familiar with the Putney organization.

"I've always respected how it was run," Pick said. "It has strong leadership. Also, working with volunteers stood out to me as something I've found rewarding in the past. I like working with people who are moved for some reason to come forward generously and do the work.

"Putney people are very responsive volunteers," she continued, "so I knew that caring, dedicated people in Putney were likely to be a supportive crew and good people to work with. I like the synergy."

Seven candidates applied for the volunteer coordinator position, Kochinskas said, and the board interviewed three.

"With her background and past work experience in the area of addressing food insecurity, Hannah was our number one choice," she said. "She has a quiet manner and good follow-through. Several of us have worked with her before and can attest to her professionalism."

Pick is personally interested in the Putney community and wants to keep the Foodshelf running smoothly.

"I'm interested in all facets of the place," she said. "Not only the practical, but also the atmosphere. I want to play a role in generating support, while also being respectful and welcoming."

One of her tasks will be to maintain and increase the community's support for the Putney Foodshelf, both donations and volunteers.

"It's important to keep the Foodshelf's presence alive in people's minds," she said. "I want to promote the spirit of volunteering and how rewarding it is. If you're going to choose a place to volunteer, the Putney Foodshelf is a good one. I encourage people to try it out."

The Putney Foodshelf is located at the Putney Community Center, 10 Christian Square, side-ramp entrance. The email address is the best way to contact Hannah Pick: putneyfoodshelf@gmail.com. The phone number is 802-387-8551 (messages checked twice a week). Donations of healthy, non-perishable food (canned tuna, soups, beans, rice, cereal, pasta and pasta sauce) are always welcomed. Monetary donations can be sent to P.O. Box 337, Putney, VT 05346.

Contact Nancy A. Olson at olsonnan47@gmail.com.


If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.

Powered by Creative Circle Media Solutions