Guard to distribute free food for families
VERMONT- People in Vermont in need of food can receive boxes of fresh produce, milk, dairy products, and chicken through the USDA's new Farmers to Families Food Box Program.
In April of 2020, the USDA announced the unprecedented program with the purpose of supplying locally sourced food to families in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. Working under a tight timeline, The Abbey Group, the Vermont Foodbank, the Vermont National Guard, the Healthy Roots Collaborative, Green Mountain Farm to School, Black River Produce, and local dairy processors worked together to bid on the program that will bring federal money into the state to purchase fresh food for people facing hunger.
On May 8 The Abbey Group was selected as one of three approved contractors for the state of Vermont to carry out the federal program. They will provide 180,000 boxes of food to people facing hunger between now and the end of June, with the possibility of extension beyond that. The program functions by connecting local farmers who would have been selling their foods to restaurants and bulk purchasers to distributors. Those distributors then package and supply family-sized food boxes to local contractors such as The Abbey Group for final distribution to those in need. Before the announcement of this program, The Abbey Group had been working tirelessly to provide wholesome meals children 18 and under, through their local schools since their closure in March.
School closures, rising unemployment and rising poverty caused the pandemic and economic recession is putting unprecedented stress on food budgets. In a recent University of Vermont study, it was estimated that food insecurity rose 33% due to the current pandemic.
The Farmers to Families food boxes will contain fresh produce, chicken, and dairy products and are open to anyone struggling to access food. Distributions will happen daily in locations throughout the state for the duration of the program. The State Emergency Operations Center and the Vermont National Guard are supporting the distributions, continuing the work they have been doing to provide FEMA MREs at locations around Vermont.
Distributions are currently scheduled through the rest of May in Berlin, Peru, Middlebury, Thetford, Morristown, Burlington, Brattleboro, Swanton, and Lyndonville. As this is a new program, and details may shift, anyone interested in attending these events is encouraged to visit the Vermont Foodbank's website for the most up to date distribution schedule. New dates and locations will be added as they are confirmed.
In southern Vermont, food distribution is scheduled for May 19 at Bromley Mountain in Peru, from 10 am to 2 pm. Food will be available while supplies last. Anyone is welcome to come pickup food.
Each household will receive one Farmers To Family Kit containing:
- 2 gallons of milk
- 2 boxes of meat (10lbs of grilled chicken filet/strip and 10lbs of breaded chicken tenders/patties)
- 1 box of fresh produce (15-25lbs of assorted vegetables)
- 1 box of Cabot dairy products (4lbs cheddar cheese, 1.5lbs American cheese, 2lbs butter)
Each household member will receive:
- 1 box of non-perishable food (about 20 pounds)
For more information regarding the Farmers to Families Food Box Program visit https://www.vtfoodbank.org/event/farmers-to-families-food-box-program-peru.