More Pantry space needed

Food Pantry hopes to find larger quarters by 2017

The important thing, says Rappahannock Food Pantry manager Mimi Forbes, is that the Pantry isn’t going away.

“We are investigating every opportunity,” says Forbes, referring to the organization’s board having come to an agreement recently with Jimmie DeBergh (who owns their current space in a small building next to the Washington School on Mount Salem Avenue) that they need to find a new home by the time their lease runs out June 30, 2017.

It’s helpful to have 18 months for the Pantry to find a larger space for the storage of food for Rappahannock’s needy families (and filled backpacks for hungry schoolchildren, a program that currently takes up a borrowed room across the parking lot at the old schoolhouse), Forbes said.

“Every board member is helping look for a space,” said Forbes. “Please make sure people know we’re not closing down.”

The Pantry serves more than 200 families, a number that has only risen over the Pantry’s six-year life. Board vice president Andy Platt said the current quarters are “pretty cramped” at about 1,200 square feet. With the space for the backpack storage in another building, he said the organization is probably using just under 1,600 square feet. They’re looking for a new space that would ideally be 2,000 to 2,500 square feet, he said.

In an August letter to Forbes, DeBergh said he’d “regretfully concluded” that the Rappahannock Food Pantry had outgrown the facility and surrounding property.

“We all feel your passion for the RFP program and know you have made every effort to indulge expanded obligations,” he wrote. “You and your staff have more than demonstrated your devotion to help others, and deserve a more accommodating working environment.

“I believe I am basically declaring what most of us know; that the RFP must relocate to more efficiently accomplish its purpose. I feel I am fair in allowing almost two years for the RFP to find a property to better serve its expanding responsibilities.”

DeBergh said he’d hoped that the Pantry might move to the Washington School, but that, after approaching John Sullivan and Bill Walton (co-owners of the property, which is the site of an apartment building and most recently the new home of The Forge Studios, a filmmaking company), he realized “this will not occur because of other commitments.”

“Thank you for your years of kindness, understanding and devotion to those less blessed,” DeBergh wrote.