State News

Plan ahead for winter with 3SquaresVT

Food distribution sites break attendance records statewide, Farmers to Families likely to end after October

After a summer of record-breaking food distribution by the Vermont Foodbank, many people throughout the state are facing hunger this winter — intensified by the coronavirus pandemic. While the USDA’s Farmers to Families Food Box program has helped to supplement the resources available to address the heightened need, the program is likely to end the same month it restarts, in October. If you have found relief through a food distribution site this year, one way to plan ahead for the end of this program and have the power to choose the food you want for your household is to apply for 3SquaresVT.

Not only is 3SquaresVT a resource for yourself and your household, it is also one of the most powerful forms of economic stimulus, supporting local grocers, retailers, and farmers.

“By feeding your household with 3SquaresVT,” said Vermont Foodbank CEO John Sayles, “you are guaranteeing that money goes directly back into our communities in Vermont.”

How does it work?

Shopping with 3SquaresVT looks and feels like a regular grocery trip. Benefits can be used at most grocery stores, convenience stores, general stores, co-ops, and many farmers markets throughout the state. By having the power to make the shopping choices right for your household, you can buy the vegetables your children like, avoid allergies, and meet dietary restrictions.

For many people, your 3SquaresVT benefit will come in the form of a card that looks like and works like a debit card. If you select any items during your shopping trip that are not purchasable with your benefits (like alcoholic beverages), you will be prompted to pay for them as you normally would afterwards. For other 3SquaresVT recipients, cash benefits are deposited directly into your bank account.

This year, the Vermont Foodbank is on track to distribute 19 million pounds of food — a 62% increase from last year’s distribution of 11.7 million pounds. This is the most food the organization has distributed in its 34 year history. A significant part of that increase has been because of the Farmers to Families Food Box program. However, that program has been paused for the month of September because of the USDA’s delay in awarding a contract. During that time, the Foodbank’s VeggieVanGo program has seen record-breaking turnouts.

“It is clear that the Farmers to Families food boxes have made a big difference for people in our state,” said Sayles. “And the increased need we are seeing during this gap in the program gives us a sneak peek of what we may see when the program ends this fall if we aren’t able to connect people with other ways to access food. That is why it is more important than ever for people to look into 3SquaresVT — so they can access extra funds for groceries as we go into a winter full of uncertainty.”

After the Farmers to Families distributions come to a close, more Vermonters than ever will be struggling to put food on the table. If you are interested in applying for 3SquaresVT, find out if you are eligible by visiting vermontfoodhelp.com, or text ‘VFBSNAP’ to 855-11.

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