Local News

Senator Patrick Leahy visits Vermont Foodbank

Draws awareness to BackPack Program to fight hunger
RUTLAND—Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) visited the Rutland distribution center of the Vermont Foodbank Sunday, May 3, touring the facility and meeting with volunteers.
During the Leahy visit volunteers in Rutland were packing backpacks full of food for area schoolchildren. The work supports the BackPack Program, which sends bags of kid-friendly, vitamin-fortified food home with children who are most in need. To reduce stigma, the food is placed in backpacks for the children to take home from school. More than 1,000 schoolchildren receive a backpack each week.
“Having an advocate like Senator Leahy recognize the work of the Foodbank staff and volunteers helps elevate the important work being done to fight hunger in Vermont,” said John Sayles, Vermont Foodbank CEO. “His work on legislation like the recent provision that provides incentives to businesses and farms to donate surplus food to local food banks shows his commitment to ensuring that fighting hunger in Vermont remains a federal priority.”
Leahy said that in 2015 the food bank reported that 25% of Vermonters used a food pantry, ate at a meal site, or participated in an after-school meal program. “This stark statistic . . . makes clear that we cannot afford to look beyond the issue of hunger and poverty in our communities. . . . I’m visiting the Rutland facility today to thank the Foodbank, its volunteers and local partners who not only are raising our awareness on this issue, but ‎are working together to ensure that no Vermonter is denied access to a healthy, affordable meal.”
Leahy has long been a leader on hunger and nutrition issues on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, and on the Senate Appropriations Committee.
In January, Leahy visited the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf in Burlington to announce that an expansion of the Good Samaritan Hunger Relief Tax Incentive Act, which encourages farms and businesses to donate surplus to food banks, had been signed into law. The incentive, which was included in a year-end spending bill in 2015, was extended to corporations, small businesses, and restaurant owners.

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