Vermont Everyone Eats (VEE), the innovative Covid-19 response program that provides meal assistance to Vermonters while supporting local restaurants, farmers, and food producers, has received an extension to continue through December of this year. Program managers had anticipated that meals would end on Sept. 30, but with funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Vermont has extended the program to address the ongoing economic instability of restaurants and the food insecurity experienced by nearly 1 in 4 Vermonters.
Since the start of Everyone Eats, 14 community hubs have worked with over 200 restaurants sourcing ingredients from over 300 farmers to distribute over 1.6 million meals to Vermonters all over the state. The Vermont Farmers Food Center (VFFC) in Rutland has worked with 23 different restaurants and caterers to provide an average of 3,000 meals per week via drive-through distribution in downtown Rutland as well as collaborations with community organizations and volunteers to deliver meals to those without access to reliable transportation. VFFC has also worked with partners to offer meal distributions in 16 Rutland County towns. Since beginning in August of 2020, VFFC has distributed over 163,000 meals to the community, providing over $1.6 million in revenue to restaurants. VFFC will continue to distribute meals through a drive-through on Mondays and Thursdays in addition to an evolving list of satellite locations.
“Over the course of the past year, it has been astounding to watch so many VEE partners work together to feed and care for one another,” Jean Hamilton, Vermont Everyone Eats statewide coordinator for Southeastern Vermont Community Action (SEVCA), the statewide administrator, said this week. “A lot of hard work has gone into this program, and everyone I talk with — volunteers, restaurants, meal recipients, lawmakers, and state employees — is overjoyed that we can continue for another three months. I am so proud that our partners across state agencies, FEMA, the legislature, SEVCA, and local communities are continuing to offer this program. Not only are we meeting today’s acute challenges, we are also learning to work together in new, collaborative ways that can help improve how our communities build health and resiliency into the future.”
Everyone Eats was inspired by grassroots initiatives from communities across Vermont. Originally designed as a five-month program, VEE has been extended several times to mitigate high levels of food insecurity and economic instability exacerbated by the Covid-19 crisis. In July 2020, Vermont lawmakers allocated funds from the Coronavirus Relief Fund to launch Vermont Everyone Eats and the program was subsequently extended with FEMA funding. Vermont Everyone Eats is operated through a network of community hubs located throughout the state.
For more information about Vermont Everyone Eats visit vteveryoneeats.org or explore community posts at #vteveryoneeats.