BROC fires up refrigeration units

Source: Rutland Herald

Tom Donahue pointed to a woman carefully wheeling a dolly loaded with food out of the doors of BROC Community Action late Wednesday morning.

“That’s five days’ worth of food, 15 meals,” the nonprofit’s CEO said. “That’s what everybody gets. What we’re providing is a balanced meal. That’s different from just canned goods off the shelf.”

The set of balanced meals the woman was leaving with was made much easier to provide, Donahue said, by the newly installed refrigeration units the organization had built as an addition to its Union Street building after a 10-month effort. The coolers had tripled BROC’s refrigeration capacity, Donahue said, allowing them to take in quantities of meat, dairy and fresh produce they couldn’t handle before.

As an example, Donahue said last week they took in an order that included 6,415 pounds for the cooler and 2,022 pounds for the freezer — including 160 holiday turkeys.

“We couldn’t have done 160 turkeys before,” Donahue said. “It’s more than just a big shiny box. It represents how the community is caring for each other.”

Donahue said the expansion was made possible by a $25,000 community development block grant for which he said the Rutland Redevelopment Authority put in so much effort they received BROC’s annual community partner award. He said they got $5,000 from Vermont Food Bank, expect work with Efficiency Vermont to offset another $7,000 and got a discount from contractors Rob Stubbins Electric and Tedesco Masonry.

“We’ve moved some of our other refrigerators to our second food shelf in Bennington,” food shelf coordinator Meggen Hanna said. “It’s improved what they had.”

Hanna said getting more from the food bank at once means BROC is less likely to run out of anything and also less prone to the sudden shortages and supply chain disruptions that have affected various products during the pandemic.

Donahue said BROC is no longer serving 1,000 people a month as it was at the height of the demand induced by the pandemic. However, he said the demand is still there, but programs such as Everyone Eats, the USDA’s box distribution and the increased state food benefits were relieving the pressure on local food shelves.

“It’s truly an investment for the future, because we know those programs are going to go away and then everyone’s going to turn here,” Donahue said.


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