RUTLAND—With the Vermont Everyone Eats (VEE) federally funded pandemic recovery program ending March 31, 2023, the Vermont Farmers Food Center (VFFC) is “stepping up to the plate” to provide a sustainable long-term solution to food insecurity in Rutland County.
Rutland County Eats, inspired by the Vermont Everyone Eats model and specifically designed for Rutland County area residents, farms, restaurants, and caterers, will enable VFFC to administer a similar program at a smaller scale, starting in April 2023. The new program will continue to provide free meals for food-insecure residents and income for farms and restaurants in the 26 towns it serves.
“We are so grateful to have worked with Everyone Eats here in Rutland over the past 2 1/2 years. It has been powerful to come together as a community to support local farms, local eaters, local food businesses and community organizations during the pandemic. Together we’ve brought 350,000 delicious meals to our community and generated $3.5 million in sales for the participating food businesses, which is something wonderful to celebrate,” said Heidi Lynch, executive director of Vermont Farmers Food Center.
VFFC has already secured grant funding to continue a restaurant-prepared meal distribution program for Rutland County, thanks to support from Rutland Regional Medical Center’s Bowse Health Trust and Southeastern Vermont Community Action (SEVCA).
Committed to sustaining the Everyone Eats collaborations and continuing a community supported meals model, VFFC is generating viable funding alternatives to raise funds to fuel and sustain the new program. The number of meals available for distribution will be dependent on the financial resources raised through the greater Rutland community.
Over the next three months VFCC will work to create several types of fundraising models to include a “Spread the Love” campaign, now available in VFFC’s online market, and a future “Restaurant Week” style fundraiser sponsored by VFFC and local businesses.
Until the VEE program ends in March, VFFC will continue to operate a Thursday drive through Everyone Eats meal distribution in Rutland from 4-5:30 p.m. Everyone Eats meals are also distributed on Wednesdays in Brandon at Neshobe Elementary School and Fair Haven Revive Church, both at 5 p.m.
Vermont Farmers Food Center increases access to and availability of locally produced food in the Rutland Region through education, expanding markets and market access, aggregation, and distribution of locally produced and value-added agricultural products. VFFC is the initiative of the Vermont Farmers Market Education Center, Inc, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization founded in Rutland, Vermont in 2012.
For more info visit: VermontFarmersFoodCenter.org.