Celebrating our remarkable Food Bank

By Steve Ulvi

for the Food Bank

Would you like something positive to think about? This is the 40th year of our Food Bank, significantly, remodeled, part of the Mullis Center Campus, and moving forward serving our community in ever-more innovative ways.

The dedicated Board of Directors and unfailingly exuberant Manager Rachelle Radonski have worked toward incremental improvements over several years to meet our growth in population and a demonstrable increase in unmet dietary needs of individuals and families. Customers and dedicated volunteers were wonderfully patient and understanding about the constraints and procedural changes.

This no-frills remodel, completed this spring, was designed by David Waldron and built by Bee’s Construction Company. The significant improvements were made possible by grants and bequests from many generous community members and organizations.

The increased space for inventory allows for a greater variety of commodities, surplus foods, quality fruits and vegetables and traditional holiday menu staples. Customers are now able to duck out of the weather and shop in a welcoming space that feels like a cozy country grocery store. Two glass-front coolers and substantially increased shelving provide for a more extensive selection of commodities and perishable foods as well as freeing up a lot more shelf room for inventory in the backroom storage areas. Buying more goods in bulk and taking advantage of occasional price reductions for popular and nutritious foods, makes for efficiencies for management dealing with fiscal constraints.

Through multiple grants from socially engaged foundations, the Food Bank offers plant-based proteins, select Latin-X foods, milk alternatives, bulk spices and easily prepared foods for our houseless neighbors. As you can imagine, sourcing products from off-island is a nearly constant juggling act requiring managerial flexibility and a can-do attitude while we all endure a faltering ferry system. Local food donations are always appreciated.

Rachelle models an atmosphere of friendly, relaxed accommodation of people’s food needs that respects human dignity and emotional needs. Because of this consistent attitude and hard work by the Board, as well as Rachelle and a large cast of volunteers from all walks of island life, the place has a warm feeling of neighbors helping neighbors, in the best tradition of this island community.

As just one of 45 active volunteers under Rachelle’s unfailingly warm and astute leadership, I have had the pleasure to make countless casual friends who have enriched my life and sense of community. From June of 2022 to June of 2023 over 12,130 household members were served during a whopping 5,500 of volunteer hours. This Food Bank welcomes one and all.

The Food Bank will have Open House hours Friday, Sept. 22 and 29 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to share the pride we all feel for this outstanding program and the vital community benefits. Please join Rachelle and the Board of Directors in celebrating this momentous year with a casual tour and explanation of the various outreach programs that make nutritious food available all year round.