Vermont Everyone Eats - One Million Meals Served
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Yvonne Lory, Capstone Community Action
Vermont Everyone Eats - One Million Meals Served
Everyone Eats of Central Vermont (Capstone Community Action and ShiftMeals) Celebrating Washington County’s Participation in Innovative COVID Relief Program
(Barre, VT) - On Thursday April 29, Vermont Everyone Eats, an innovative COVID-19 response program, is celebrating one million restaurant meals served to Vermonters experiencing food insecurity. The program was launched in August 2020 with an allocation of $5 million of the state’s Coronavirus Relief Fund contracted by the Agency of Commerce and Community Development to Southeastern Vermont Community Action Agency. The program would have expired in December, but widespread community support and advocacy empowered program and state partners to secure additional funding through FEMA and the program has been extended through the state of emergency.
“It’s inspiring to work with so many partners throughout Central Vermont to be able to deliver so many nutritious meals during such a challenging time for Vermonters. Our Everyone Eats program is a win for our local families, restaurants, and farms, noted Sue Minter, Capstone Community Action’s executive director. “This program also allows all of us to take a closer look at hunger and advocate for improving access to food through innovative delivery programs and through 3SquaresVT – both during and after the pandemic.”
Vermont Everyone Eats program design draws on many of Vermont’s strengths. It puts Vermont’s independent restaurants and robust local food system at the center of feeding their communities. Over 200 Vermont restaurants have contributed to the one million meals, which have contained nearly $1 million of Vermont ingredients.
Morse Block Deli has been providing 160 meals per week to the Barre Community. Chef and owner, Stefano Coppola, said, “We love this program. It is essential to our local economy and food systems, especially when we purchase (up to) 70% from local farms/artisans.”
The program was created and has developed through powerful, cross-sector, public-private partnerships. Fourteen community “hubs” execute the programming on the ground in all 14 Vermont counties. These hubs represent hundreds of community organizations who are working together to contract meals from participating restaurants, manage delivery logistics, promote the program, and ensure the meals are delivered safely to meal recipients. The Central Vermont hub serves Washington, Lamoille, and Orange counties and is a unique partnership between Capstone Community Action in Barre and ShiftMeals, a collaboration of Skinny Pancake.
In Washington County, the Central Vermont Hub works with 24 partner organizations and has served over 48,323 meals through the 2021 phase of the program. In Orange County, the Central Vermont Hub works with six partner organizations and has served over 3,170 meals through the 2021 phase of the program. While in Lamoille County, the Central Vermont Hub works with 12 partner organizations and has served over 12,030 meals through the 2021 phase of the program.
Wendy Rea, of CERV (Community Emergency Relief Volunteers), which operates a food shelf in Northfield, says “Being able to provide fresh prepared meals to our community is a fantastic addition to the staples we give them each week.”
Jean Hamilton, Vermont Everyone Eats Statewide Coordinator acknowledges the important role of the community hubs, “Vermont is well-known for its community organizations and thank goodness for them. In less than nine months, our program was launched from a concept to this moment, 1 million local meals delivered to neighbors all across our state. We were able to do this because of the community organizations that stepped up and got right to work. They are the backbone of our community resilience.”
“It is outstanding that this program was implemented in such a short time frame and we were able to reach so many families during the middle of a pandemic. It is incredible that we have served one million meals to Vermonters experiencing food insecurity.” - Liz Scharf, director of the Community Economic Development Department at Capstone Community Action.
Hamilton sees this moment to celebrate the collective action of the program: “It is the people behind VEE that we are really celebrating today. Starting with the individuals who were courageous enough to step forward and ask for help, the meal recipients and the restauranteurs, to the farmers and food producers, the lawmakers and agency staff, the members of our statewide taskforce, and especially the hub organizers, partner organizations, and volunteers – Vermont Everyone Eats is a model of how our communities can rise up together holding our shared vulnerability as an inspiration for progress. Who is your Everyone Eats hero? Please join us in celebrating them today.”
Capstone Community Action was founded in 1965 and works to overcome poverty by serving people in crisis and creating economic opportunity for people and communities. Capstone’s programs include emergency food, heat assistance, housing counseling and homelessness intervention, savings and credit coaching, business counseling, workforce development, home weatherization, transportation access, and child and family development programs in Early Head Start/Head Start. We serve over 10,600 people through these programs each year. www.capstonevt.org. For information about Capstone Community Action’s involvement in Vermont Everyone Eats please visit https://shiftmeals.org/everyone-eats.
For more statewide information about Vermont Everyone Eats visit www.vteveryoneeats.org