How many delivery trucks are in the Willing Hands “Fleet”? I see you everywhere!

Willing Hands now has two trucks. Our newer Isuzu refrigerated truck is on the road every day of the year, including Sundays, and excepting major holidays. We travel over 600 miles per week. Our older GMC truck is used for special pickups and deliveries which mainly occur during our busy summer season.

What kinds of surplus food does Willing Hands accept?

Willing Hands is committed to handling only the most nutritious food. 93% of the food that we accept is unprocessed fruit and vegetables. Whole grain breads, dairy and frozen meats make up the other catergories of foods we distribute. We turn down donations of sweets, and canned, boxed or highly processed foods.

Why is there so much surplus food?

The Upper Valley region of Vermont and New Hampshire is rich with producers of top quality food.  Our local farms and bakeries provide an abundance of fruit, vegetables, dairy, meat and wholesome bread. As consumers we are very fortunate to have easy access to an astonishing variety.  Whether we buy directly from a farm stand, shop at a farmer’s market, a local cooperative food store, or dine out, we expect to find an ample supply of superb quality, fresh food.

The professionals in our local food economy are savvy business people, committed to excellence.  They recognize the importance of providing their customers with a wide variety of top quality product to choose from. However, no one can predict how many cucumbers, tomatoes or loaves of bread will sell on a given day. No one can predict that favorable weather conditions will enable a bumper crop of apples or winter squash. Cows will go on producing milk no matter whether families are here or have left town for vacation. Surplus is inevitable in a thriving local food economy.

How do I go about making a donation of food to Willing Hands?

Farmers with surplus, please contact us! We can arrange for a one-time pick up or we can arrange for a regular weekly pick-up depending on your location and the availability of your product. Email – Director@willinghands.org or call 802-698-0265.

Additional ways to donate food:

  • Home Gardeners with space are encouraged to grow some extra veggies for Willing Hands, or perhaps you find you can donate surplus when it comes to harvest time:  Check out details of our “grow a row for Willing Hands” program here.
  • Are you a hunter with excess meat? We accept donations of processed and packaged wild game. Contact your local game warden to have the meat processed and delivered to Willing Hands. If you have processed and packaged it yourself, call us to coordinate a drop-off at our office in Norwich.

Our farm has a bumper crop of ______ but it is not economically reasonable for us to pay our staff to harvest it. Can Willing Hands send a crew to come gather the crop?

Please contact us. Chances are that we will say “YES!”  We have an eager group of volunteers that are ready to “glean” on short notice. Check out our gleaning pages. We send our crew out with an experienced leader to ensure that the project is handled with respect and efficiency. Very little time or supervision is required of the farmer. We provide all the necessary containers/bins as well as transport of the harvest back to our facility.

Can my organization receive deliveries from Willing Hands?

If your organization is a non-profit 501(c)3  serving people with food insecurity or “at-risk” and low income individuals and families, and located within a thirty-mile radius of Norwich, VT, then please contact us!  We ask that you first review the guidelines to be a Willing Hands Recipient and fill out an Application to Receive Food Deliveries – Word Doc, but we are happy to talk to you to answer any questions you might have and discuss scheduling and specific food needs.

When Willing Hands has more than enough produce, we make special arrangements to get this surplus to non-profits operating outside of our delivery region. Please contact us and we’ll add your organization to our list to call when we have extra to share.

Will Willing Hands deliver to my home?

Willing Hands simply does not have the resources to make deliveries directly to private homes. We encourage you to check the list of organizations currently receiving deliveries  – chances are, one of them is located nearby.

Are there laws that protect Food Donors?

Here are links to the liability laws covering food recovery and food safety. There are both Federal laws and state laws which protect Willing Hands and food donors regarding these concerns.

Federal Law –  http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-104publ210/pdf/PLAW-104publ210.pdf

Vermont Law – Good Samaritan Law for Donation of Food

How did Willing Hands get started?

Below you will find a quick answer. Check out this page if you would like to learn the whole story of Willing Hands.

During the winter of 2003-2004, as manager of the Bulk and Natural Foods section of the Hanover Co-op Food Store, Peter Phippen noticed that a very large amount of produce was going to the dumpster every day. He approached the management and was given permission to conduct a 2 month study to determine the level of waste. He found that 400-600 lbs of usable produce was ending up in the dumpster each day. He reported his findings to the Co-op in April 2004 and wrote a proposal to the Co-op Management Team to reclaim the unused yet still very viable food, and deliver it to people in need throughout the Upper Valley. The Co-op agreed that his plan made good sense. Willing Hands was born.

With community support and with the invaluable help of Tom Ketteridge and others at the Upper Valley Haven (the fiscal agent for the budding enterprise), Willing Hands began operations. Over the first 6 months, 50+ tons of produce was delivered to about twenty locations. The list of food donors expanded and included many that are still active in the program today. The first Board of Directors was formed, and the application for status as a 501 (c)(3) corporation was initiated. The State of New Hampshire granted WH non-profit status in October, 2004. Federal status was granted during the summer of 2005.

The first two years of the program saw increasing community involvement. You could find us at many local events such as street fairs, river days, state fairs and the like, distributing literature on the program, talking with locals and raising funds. Thanks to the generous support of the Upper Valley community, Willing Hands thrived. We served 40 locations weekly and had some 20 sources of donated food.

Peter had other projects on his goal-list which took him away from the area in June 2006. We thank him for his creative vision and for his hard work and dedication as founder of Willing Hands.