Food Pantry, on its own, looks forward to May 12

With Piedmont Community Action Partnership (PCAP) out of operation, the Rappahannock Food Pantry (which had received some of its funding through the PCAP over the last three years) was facing uncertainty. The uncertainty lasted until February, when its advocates created the Rappahannock Pantry Inc., a locally funded and operated organization.

What was initially an advisory committee is now the pantry’s board of directors, with Bette Mahoney as president, Hal Hunter as vice president, Kathy Eggers as treasurer and Georgia Gilpin as secretary. Food Pantry manager Mimi Forbes continues in her position.

With the help of Rappahannock County and the town of Washington (which both designated this May 12 as the first-ever Food Pantry Day) and local supporters who’ve organized fundraising events for that day and beyond – the pantry hopes to meet its roughly $65,000 annual budget without any initial community-action program assistance.

Under federal and state law, a single entity operating within the county must be designated by the governor to receive federal block grant funds and disburse them to other community agencies. This Monday (April 2), the board of supervisors voted to advise the state that they wish the nonprofit organization, People Inc., to be designated as the county’s community-action agency (as People Inc. was last month by Fauquier County’s supervisors).

People Inc. was actually the state’s first community action agency, formed in 1964, and offers programs in the areas of child and family development, community economic development, community services, housing development and workforce development throughout western Virginia and beyond. Their initial work in Rappahannock will explore providing some of these needed services in our community.

Mahoney said this week that although the Food Pantry will not initially rely on People Inc. for federal funding, there will be continued cooperation between the pantry and the community-action organization, with an eye toward possible cost savings on shared services.

Not long after the PCAP board voted in January to request the governor rescind its designation as a community action agency effective July 1, for a variety of reasons, the Rappahannock Pantry, Inc. was established. Besides officers Mahoney, Hunter, Eggers and Gilpin, also serving on the board are Gwen Bates, Peter Hornbostel, Noel Laing, Doug Schiffman and Montse Vittitow. The Pantry will continue to be run with both private donations of food and money and food donations from the United States Department of Agriculture.

For the last year, no federal CSBG funds have been used to fund the Pantry. Rather the Pantry has operated through financial and volunteer support from Rappahannock County. It is expected that CSBG funds will be used to develop other resources which can be used to help the low-income population of the county help themselves and each other in the future. The Pantry will continue to be funded by local resources since that’s the only way to assure that the Pantry continues to provide its valuable service to the community.

Support the Pantry May 12

The county supervisors and the Washington Town Council in March declared May 12 as “Rappahannock County Food Pantry Day,” which is “a concerted effort to increase volunteer support, to raise private funding, and to heighten the community’s awareness of what the food pantry does and how people can be supportive of its efforts.”

Three of the events that day will occur at the Pantry (603 Mt. Salem Avenue, Washington): a pet parade and contest from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m., with pets registered by bringing a donation of pet food, people food or money, and prizes in various categories; a vegetable gardening workshop from 11 a.m. to 12:30 on the uses of a raised bed, whose participants will be encouraged to donate some of their future “successes” to the pantry; and an open house from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

The open house on Pantry Day is for the community, Mahoney said. A donation of food or money would be appreciated but, more important, it is hoped that people will come to look around and see what is done at the pantry.  

There will be other food and fundraisers throughout the day on May 12 (or before or after the day as well): The Girl Scouts will be holding a food drive at Rappahannock Elementary School. Trinity Church will be donating the proceeds of a lemonade stand, manned by their mascot, “Dodger” (who might also be in the parade). The Hair Gallery will donate $1 for every haircut they do during the previous week. Mountain Laurel Montessori Farm School is sponsoring a canned food drive. Rappahannock Central’sFarm-to-Fork Market, River District Arts and Middle Street Gallery will be holding a scavenger hunt called “The Hungry Games.” Other businesses in the community are expected to help.

And, there will be a big fundraising party at the home of Beverly and John Fox Sullivan in Washington beginning at 6 p.m. The charge for the evening event is $85 per person. To make reservations for the evening party, leave a message at 540-937-4038 or send an email to pantryday@rappahannockpantry.org (or mail a check for $85 per person to Rappahannock Food Pantry, 603 Mt. Salem Avenue, Washington, VA 22747).

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