Food for all at the Vineyard Haven Library

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Vineyard Haven Library children's librarian Emily LaPierre with a cart holding soups and baby foods from IGI. — Eunki Seonwoo

Frozen containers of soup, puréed baby foods, and dry snacks were on display at Vineyard Haven Public Library’s entrance for anyone to take on Wednesday, Nov. 24.

Emily LaPierre, the children’s librarian, said there were similar giveaways last year during school vacations in February and April in a collaborative effort with the Island Grown Initiative (IGI). LaPierre worked with Emily Armstrong, who used to work in IGI’s education department, to collaborate as both organizations adjusted to the pandemic. These holiday and vacation soup bundle packs were given by request because it was during the height of the pandemic. 

“Now, since things are opening up again and restrictions are easing up, we figured we can continue this collaboration by having them on hand as much as possible, starting with today’s giveaway,” LaPierre said. 

The soups and baby foods were provided by IGI, which also provided baby foods to M.V. Family Center across the street from the library. Slough Farm in Edgartown was a part of supplying soup as well. Good Shepherd Parish in Oak Bluffs, which has been supplying snacks for the library’s kids program during the pandemic, and Chef Deon’s Kitchen also provided foodstuffs. LaPierre said this collaboration was particularly helpful since the Island Food Pantry moved from Vineyard Haven to Oak Bluffs, so this giveaway can provide those who need it some food and warmth with their families. 

“We hope this is going to take off more,” LaPierre said. She hopes that soups can be stored in a freezer at the library for people to request in the future. “This gets the word out there for IGI and that we’re much more than a lending library.”

LaPierre said anyone was invited to take from the carts of food.

“The library itself is a space for all and anyone,” LaPierre said. “We see so many variations of [people’s] situations that come in, and it’s really nice to be able to offer these things without a financial tie for anyone who might just want to try something new, especially with prices inflating on the Island and in the world right now … all of the resources on the Island are truly wonderful.”

IGI provided new soups, such as curry apple and carrot soup, for the giveaway, according to LaPierre. She said IGI tries using the “whole food” when cooking, such as using the entire pumpkin rather than just the seeds. The food IGI provided also has an ingredients list, so people know what they might be eating. 

LaPierre recommended the beef stew, which she said was delicious. 

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