Heat pumps help food shelf fight hunger

2 min read
Rutland, VT
Rutland Community Cupboard Overview
  • Each month the Cupboard feeds nearly 1,000 people from Rutland City, Rutland Town, Center Rutland, Shrewsbury, Clarendon, North Clarendon, Wallingford, East Wallingford, Cuttingsville, Mendon, and Killington.
  • The Cupboard serves an at-risk population for food insecurity, housing insecurity, and lack of employment.
  • The Cupboard distributes around 16,600 items per month.
  • In addition to food, provides baby diapers and formula, pet food and supplies, and winter accessories.
  • The Cupboard is community led with 45-50 volunteers from the community staffing the Cupboard year-round.

One in four people in Rutland County struggles with hunger. That makes Rutland Community Cupboard's work essential to the well-being of the community.

When Rebekah Stephens took over leadership of the Rutland Community Cupboard, summer was setting in. With no air conditioning, ventilation, or windows that could open, the volunteer-based staff was overheating, and food was spoiling quickly. The refrigeration systems were working overtime to keep food fresh – and so was the staff: they moved perishable items outdoors to an old cooler each night. Rebekah looked for a solution. She researched heat pumps – looking for a system that would provide summer air conditioning. But the Cupboard couldn't afford the upfront cost of a new system based on its donation-dependent budget.

Green Mountain Power and Efficiency Vermont provided incentives based on the expected energy savings and carbon reductions of the heat pump system. This brought the cost down and made a heat pump system affordable for the Cupboard.

Two Rutland companies installed the system: Turner Piping & Refrigeration and Rob Stubbins Electrical.

The new heat pump system began proving its value as winter set in. It's an excellent source of heat, reducing fuel costs and strain on the aging furnace. Every penny the Cupboard saves can go back into food and supplies for the community members who rely on the Cupboard’s work. The Community Cupboard is looking ahead to a new renovation project. Rebekah said she plans to partner with Efficiency Vermont from the beginning.