March 9, 2021
Faces of Feeding Chittenden: Will Peery

Will has been volunteering at Feeding Chittenden for more than 10 years, averaging 16 hours per week! In pre-Covid times, what he enjoyed most about Feeding Chittenden was “socializing with the staff and customers.” Since the start of the pandemic, he has found other things to do on-site, including helping us improve our operating systems with his skills as a former carpenter.

One day, Will noticed that there was an icy draft coming through the door where we hand off grocery boxes to visitors. He took it upon himself to design and build a simplified version of an airlock door– “what they have on spaceships to allow the astronauts to go from a pressurized environment to a vacuum without letting all the atmosphere out of the spaceship.”
Thanks to Will, we now have a system that allows staff and visitors to stay socially distant, and keeps the grocery distribution area warm!

Will says that he volunteers at Feeding Chittenden because he wants to be “making the world a better place in some way, rather than just taking up space and consuming resources.” He spends time fighting poverty at Feeding Chittenden largely because of his personal history. He says, “I was raised by parents who were passionate about social justice issues– Civil Rights and opposing the war in Vietnam.” Will’s family was deeply involved in the Civil Rights movement– as a child, he even had dinner at Dr. King’s home! Later in his life, Will witnessed severe “injustices of poverty and fascist dictators” during his travels outside the United States and “became passionately involved in social justice movements.”

Will’s experiences in the US and beyond have led him to believe that we live in “a very unfair economic system that tends to be like Robin Hood in reverse– taking from the needy, and giving to the greedy.” That’s why he devotes so much time to fighting hunger in his community– he sees it as wrong that our economic system “blames the victim of economic inequality, as if it was some failure of character that caused them to be poor.” We agree with Will that poverty-related issues like hunger are Not about individual failure. Food insecurity can happen when one least expects it, regardless of how hard they work to put meals on the table. This has been especially true in the pandemic, during which Will has continued to devote time and energy to fighting hunger by volunteering at Feeding Chittenden. Thank you Will! We’re so grateful for you, and for all of our volunteers.