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Farmers To Families Food Box program extended

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The Farmers to Families Food Box program, which provides local produce and dairy products to families throughout Vermont and the Upper Valley community in New Hampshire, has received a two-month funding extension, Vermont's congressional delegation announced Wednesday.

The Abbey Group and Willing Hands, both based in Vermont, have secured extended contracts through the U.S. Department of Agriculture to continue the delivery of food boxes throughout this summer through the end of August. These two contracts will bring an additional $8.5 million in nutrition assistance.

The Farmers to Families Food Box program partners with regional and local producers to purchase fresh produce, dairy and meat for distribution to food insecure families.

In a joint statement, Sen. Patrick Leahy, Sen, Bernie Sanders and Rep. Peter Welch said: "Here in Vermont, we have seen miles of cars lined up so that families and individuals can get the food they need to make it through the week. Through the hard work and dedication of the Abbey Group, Willing Hands, the State of Vermont, the Vermont Foodbank and countless other partners and farmers around the state, Vermonters will be able to continue to have access to fresh local produce through the coming months."We know that hunger will extend beyond the summer, and we will continue to fight for federal assistance for nutrition programs in our state and nationwide. Ultimately, we need to expand the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (3SquaresVT) to address the skyrocketing rates of hunger in the face of COVID-19."

Vermonters or their families who are having trouble putting food on the table can call 2-1-1 to see if they qualify for 3SquaresVT.

The Abbey Group will distribute 266,000 boxes to Vermont families through August. The boxes will contain dairy products from HP Hood Dairy, Monument Farms Dairy, Thomas Dairy, Cabot, Shelburne Farms and Kingdom Creamery. They will also contain 440,000 pounds of local produce from Reinhart Food Service, Black River Produce, Green Mountain Farm to School, Healthy Roots Collaborative, the Center for Agricultural Economy, Deep Root Organics and others.

Details on how to sign up to receive food boxes can be found on the Vermont Department of Emergency Management's website, https://vem.vermont.gov/.

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