Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a food bank and a food shelf?

A food bank is not a food shelf: A food bank secures large quantities of food and food-related products from commercial suppliers, concerned citizens, and other sources. After the product is examined and sorted, it is then offered to the Foodbank's member agencies in exchange for a low per-pound "shared maintenance fee." Food banks do not give food directly to needy people. There is only one food bank in Vermont – the Vermont Foodbank.


A food shelf is a local, non-profit community agency that directly provides bags or boxes of food to needy people in its area for home preparation and consumption. A food shelf may obtain food from the Foodbank, from individual donations in its community, and through wholesale and/or retail purchase.


Why is the Vermont Foodbank necessary?

There are hundreds of thousands of our Vermont neighbors – including children, seniors and working families – who are unable to put enough food on the table.  Visits to their community food shelves can help with this shortfall, and that’s where the Foodbank comes in.  We acquire and distribute food to 225 network partners around the state – food shelves, pantries, senior meal programs and other community meal sites – enabling as many as 86,000 Vermonters to eat.

What is food insecurity?

Food insecurity has been defined as a condition in which a family or an individual is unable to obtain enough safe and nutritious food from socially acceptable sources in order to lead an active and healthy life.


How many people access food through the Vermont Foodbank?  

 In 2012, the Foodbank provided food to as many as 86,000 Vermonters.


How many not-for-profit feeding programs get food from the Vermont Foodbank?

We currently have 20 network partners who receive food from the Foodbank.


How do agencies acquire food from the Vermont Foodbank?

An eligible agency can sign up to be one of our Network Partners.  This enables them to access food at a reduced cost to distribute in their communities.  The Foodbank acquires and distributes the food by delivery to the agencies or the Partners can pick up their order at one of the Foodbank’s warehouses located in Barre, Brattleboro and Wolcott.


How is the Vermont Foodbank connected to Feeding America?

The Foodbank is a member of Feeding America, the nation's network of food banks. Feeding America is comprised of 210 food banks across the United States and in Puerto Rico, and is the largest charitable hunger organization in the country.


How long has the Vermont Foodbank been in operation?

The Foodbank opened its doors in 1986.


Where is the Vermont Foodbank headquarters located?

The Foodbank headquarters is located in the Wilson Industrial Park at 33 Parker Road in Barre.


If I know people in need of food, can they get it directly from the Vermont Foodbank?

The Foodbank does not distribute food directly to individuals, but rather to our Network Partners.  If you know someone who is hungry, they should first visit their local food shelf.  For a list of Foodbank Network Partners, please click here.


How can I help?

Your donations are very important to the ongoing success of the Foodbank.  Every $10 gift allows the Foodbank to 30 meals to hungry Vermonters.  Learn more about donating.


Isn’t hunger more of an issue during the winter months when heating costs are high in Vermont?

Hunger knows no season and is a year-round issue.  Kids suffer in the summer when they aren’t receiving school breakfast and lunch.  Seniors face difficulties living on fixed incomes.  Working families scramble all year long to make ends meet.  Your donations are put to good use no matter what the season.


What is the story of the Foodbank Logo?

In Abenaki legend corn is a gift from the gods in the form of a black bird.


The story goes this way. On a cold night in the forest, Mon-do-min, an old, lame hunter, lay dying from hunger. He prayed to gods of the southern sky to send him food. Suddenly a small, black bird appeared.  The man caught the bird, prepared a fire, and began to roast his meal.  He was about to eat the bird when he heard someone crying.  He followed the sound and found an injured woman and her child.  He brought them back to his camp and gave them the bird to eat, saying, “The Great Spirit has spoken. You must live. I must die. But remember me when you see others alone and hungry. Share with them.”  In the early spring, the old man’s tribe found his grave covered with green plants. The Great Spirit told them that the plants would ripen into full ears of a grain that would feed everyone.  The black bird symbolizes the vessel for gathering, the yellow kernel, the food we share, and Mon-do-min, the act of nurturing others.

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