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Friday, Sep 29, 2023

HOPE expands reach with new mobile refrigerator

HOPE, a Middlebury-based organization that operates one of the largest food shelves in the region, recently purchased a mobile refrigerator unit to help them continue to serve Addison County.

HOPE, which stands for Helping Overcome Poverty’s Effects, aims to “improve the lives of low-income people in Addison County, Vermont, by working with individuals to identify and secure the resources needed to meet their own basic needs,” according to their website. The organization provides housing, utility, medical, dental, and job-related assistance and has been serving Addison County since 1965. 

The new refrigerator is 144-cubic-feet (four feet by six feet) and can be hitched to a pickup truck owned by the organization. The fridge is a Polar King model and was purchased for 28,000 dollars, according to The Addison County Independent

Funding for HOPE’s purchase of the fridge was obtained via two grants through Salvation Farms in Morrisville. Salvation Farms is a key part of the Vermont Gleaning Collective, an association of organizations across Vermont that glean crops after harvest, preventing food that is still good from going to waste. HOPE is one of a few members of the collective. As reported in The Addison Independent, the collective hopes to create a system where local communities are fed more and more by local farms through surplus crops.

One of the grants used to purchase the fridge came from the Hannaford Charitable Food Foundation, the other from an environmental project fund bankrolled by a fine charged to the Chittenden Solid Waste Management after they were found to have improperly dumped glass in 2018

Anna Freund, HOPE’s food programs coordinator, told The Campus that “the mobile refrigerator was purchased to help us increase food access in Addison County. It will allow us to safely hold off-site food distribution events.” Previously, the organization had to use unwieldy coolers to transport fresh food to events, according to The Addison Independent.

Freund hopes the fridge will make transportation smoother. 

“It will also be helpful in transporting delicate crops from farms to HOPE and other sites,” Freund said. HOPE plans to use the trailer to serve the outer areas of the county that were previously difficult to stock with food, like Addison County’s southeastern and northwestern regions. 

Although food distribution locations are still being determined, HOPE aims to have accessible delivery locations, for example schools or town offices, delivered to at regular times so locals can schedule a visit to the fridge into their routines. 

The refrigerator is also designed for delivering food to residents who cannot themselves travel to HOPE’s central location due to health and transportation challenges. 

The fridge also provides additional storage for fresh produce that HOPE harvests during the warmer months.

Other than the trailer, HOPE is focusing on offering food education events and hopes to tailor those to young adults.

After decades of serving the community by providing food that residents had to make trips to get, the fridge marks an exciting turning point and expansion for the organization. According to The Addison Independent, it’s believed that HOPE is the only anti-poverty organization in Vermont that is currently transporting food to those who need it with a mobile refrigerator.