On August 26, 2020

GMP Food Challenge adapts to address local Covid impacts

After collecting hundreds of thousands of pounds of food for Rutland County residents over its existence and watching the need balloon due to Covid-19, the GMP Food Challenge is going digital with cash donations that the Rutland Community Cupboard can turn into food for Vermonters needing assistance.

“With record requests for folks needing help, and a desire to assist safely by reducing contact with the repeated handling of grocery items, the 2020 Food Challenge is changing to help meet rapidly increasing local needs,” said Green Mountain Power Vice President Steve Costello.  “Now more than ever, we want to encourage anyone in a position to help to take part in the challenge and donate to help ensure the Community Cupboard can feed anyone who needs food during these difficult times.”

The challenge began Aug. 20 and runs through Sept. 30.  Donations may be made securely through the Community Cupboard website, rutlandcommunitycupboard.org or by sending a check to Community Cupboard/GMP Challenge, 65 River St., Rutland, VT 05701. GMP will make a donation from its charitable fund to the Cupboard for every donation made.

“Monetary donations go so much farther,” Executive Director Rebekah Stephens said.  “They allow us to buy the things our clients need most, at much lower prices than donors could hope to find.

“Whether someone gives $10 or $500, GMP will add $10 to every donation, up to $4,000, with a goal of raising at least $25,000 in total,” Costello said.

In years past, businesses, clubs, schools, churches, synagogues, sports teams, and individuals participated in the challenge, collecting as much food as possible, with donations matched by monetary contributions from the GMP charitable fund.  This year, organizations and individuals are encouraged to raise and donate money instead, which the Cupboard can use to purchase food at a fraction of the cost of retail.

“Normally, many of our clients are working people who just can’t make ends meet,” Stephens said. “Now, we are seeing 10 to 12 new families every day – people we have never seen before – due to layoffs and furloughs from Covid-19.  We are providing more than 1,000 items a day, on average, to county residents, and we expect the need for the year will be roughly double what it was prior to Covid.  The people we serve desperately need help!”

Terry Jaye, operations manager at Catamount Radio, signed on as media sponsor because of the growing need.  “Rutland, as a community, always steps up when the chips are down,” Jaye said.  “Well, the chips are down right now for thousands of our neighbors, and those of us who can need to step up.  Any donation will help.”

Rutland South Rotary Club has already contributed $1,400 to the cause.

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