Vermont Everyone Eats, the COVID-19 response program that provides meal assistance to Vermonters in need while supporting local restaurants, farmers, and food producers, has received an extension to continue programming.
Program managers had anticipated that the program would end on June 30, but the state extended the program contract recognizing that many Vermonters continue to face exacerbated food insecurity due to the COVID-19 economic crisis. The program is now expected to continue through September, depending on demonstrated need and available funding.
“While Vermont celebrates the lifting of statewide pandemic restrictions, residents and local businesses continue to face pandemic-related crises. Many Vermonters are navigating shifting economic resources like housing vouchers, unemployment benefits, SNAP eligibility, and school meals programs,” The Collaborative said in a release. “The Vermont Everyone Eats program has been extended to provide a transitional food resource for everyone experiencing food insecurity due to turbulent economic conditions such as changing supplemental benefits, continued need for physical isolation, and mobility and transportation limitations.”
Since November 2020, the Vermont Everyone Eats program has distributed nearly 25,000 free meals to Bennington County residents. Each week, local restaurants provide meals which are distributed with the support of volunteers and staff at the Community Food Cupboard in Manchester, the Federated Church of East Arlington, and Shires Housing in Bennington. Participating local restaurants currently include: The Works Café, Sam’s Wood Fired Pizza Co., Naga Bakehouse, New Morning Natural Foods and Juicery, Moonwink, Cold Cow Creamery, Bringing You Vermont, and The Avocado Pit.
“We are thrilled to be a part of this important initiative and want to thank all of our partners for their continued support and dedication to this program,” says Jackie Borella of The Collaborative.
The program is anticipated to ramp down, meaning the volume of available meals will decrease over the next few months as community food security begins to stabilize. Meals are still available weekly on Wednesdays and Thursdays. For more information about how to receive a meal, visit www.facebook.com/everyoneeatstheshires.
Vermont Everyone Eats is a program that provides nutritious meals to Vermonters in need of food assistance as well as a stabilizing source of income for Vermont restaurants, farmers, and food producers.
The program was inspired by grassroots initiatives from communities across Vermont that collaboratively advocated for statewide funding to mitigate the high levels of food insecurity and food industry instability exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis.
In July 2020, Vermont lawmakers allocated funds to launch the program from the Coronavirus Relief Fund and the program was subsequently extended with funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Donations from private individuals are also helping to fill funding gaps in the program.
Vermont Everyone Eats is operated through a network of community hubs located throughout Vermont. The Collaborative, Shires Housing, Bennington College’s Center for the Advancement of Public Action, and the Alliance for Community Transformations are partners in the regional hub serving Bennington County.
Southeastern Vermont Community Action coordinates the program through a contract with the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development. To learn more, and to see a list of available distribution sites, visit www.vteveryoneeats.org.