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Contribute to 30th annual food drive

Saturday, May 14, marks the 30th anniversary of one of America’s great days of giving — the National Association of Letter Carriers Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive.

Letter carriers walk through the community every day, often coming face to face with a sad reality for too many — hunger.

So, each year on the second Saturday in May, letter carriers across the country collect non-perishable food donations from our customers. The donations we collect locally go directly to food pantries (in Bennington County and surrounding areas) to provide food to people who need our help.

In 2019, we collected more than 12,140 pounds of food in Bennington and surrounding areas. Bennington collected 9,865 pounds of this, feeding more than 1,000 families for two months. We have been unable to hold a food drive the last two years due to COVID-19, so we hope this year will be a huge success.

The need for food donations is great. Currently in Vermont 1 out of 4 are unsure where their next meal is coming from. Our food drive timing is crucial. Food banks and pantries often receive the majority of their donations during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday seasons. By springtime many pantries are depleted, entering the summer low on supplies.

Wonder what foods are great to donate to the food drive? Here are a few non-perishable food items requested by food banks: cereal, pasta, rice, canned goods including vegetables, 100 percent juice, soup, pasta sauce, macaroni & cheese, beans, baby food, diapers, laundry detergent, soap and shampoo.

Participating in the Letter Carrier Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive is easy. Just leave a nonperishable food donation in a bag by your mailbox on May 14 before mail delivery, and your letter carrier will do the rest. Please help us in the fight to end hunger as we celebrate our 30th anniversary year in America’s great day of giving.

Martin Mosher

Letter Carrier

Bennington

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House committee focused on workforce issues

The Vermont Legislature is coming down the home stretch of the 2022 session. Although the entire Legislature is busy completing its work (which will culminate with the passing of the state budget), the House Committee on Commerce and Economic Development continues to work on some of the largest bills and top priorities of the Legislature: workforce and economic development.

In mid-March the House passed H.703, a broad bill addressing Vermont’s workforce. Drafted and presented by the commerce committee (who collaborated with a number of other committees), this bill makes a number of investments in the areas of most need for Vermont’s workforce. Significant investments are made in our healthcare workforce, including scholarships for nursing students, loan forgiveness for recent nursing graduates, and funds aimed at expanding the capacity of Vermont’s nursing programs. Addressing the need for more workers within the trades, H.703 funds scholarships for certificate programs (such as those at Southwestern Tech), works to improve the funding mechanism for Vermont’s Career and Technical Education centers (CTEs), and creates new revolving loans to allow CTEs to purchase properties to rehab as part of their building trades programs. I was proud that this bi-partisan bill passed the House unanimously.

An omnibus bill relating to economic development, H.157, was just passed by the Senate. This bill creates forgivable loans for businesses who have been impacted by the pandemic but have not received sufficient assistance from other state or federal programs (these funds are intended to replace a program designed in 2021 that failed to meet the needs of many businesses due to overly-restrictive eligibility criteria, a concern I had raised last session).

In further business support, H.159 creates grants specifically for the creative economy to help theaters, museums, and music venues, many of which have still not returned to normal attendance. The bill aims to draw new workers to Vermont with marketing funds and money to support programs for potential and new residents, such as the Stay-to-Stay and Welcome Wagon programs that are run by our chamber of commerce. This bill also seeks to add a new $25 benefit to recipients of Unemployment Insurance (a proposal I oppose due to the unnecessary tax it adds to employers).

Final work continues on all of these proposals. While there are many different views in the Legislature and the governor’s administration, the goal remains the same for all of us: to find the most impactful way to use the influx of federal money brought about by the pandemic.

I welcome your thoughts, questions, and comments at nigro.vt@gmail.com or 802-440-2752.

Michael Nigro

State Representative

Bennington 2-2


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