Frequently Asked Questions

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

The Vermont Foodbank secures large quantities of food from grocery stores, food manufacturers, farms, businesses, restaurants, individuals, and Feeding America, the national network of food banks. After the product is examined and sorted, it is distributed statewide to our network partners. Food banks do not give food directly to individuals. The Vermont Foodbank is the only food bank in the state.


A food shelf is a local non-profit that provides food directly to individuals in need. A food shelf may obtain food from the Vermont Foodbank, from individual donors, and through wholesale and/or retail purchase. Visit our Agency Map to see the Vermont Foodbank network partners in your community.


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 local 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 153,000 Vermonters to eat. 


What is food insecurity?

Food insecurity is when 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 2014, the Foodbank provided food to as many as 153,000 Vermonters.


How many programs get food from the Vermont Foodbank?

We currently have 225 network partners who receive food from the Foodbank.


How do agencies acquire food from the Vermont Foodbank?

An agency must be a member of the Vermont Foodbank network to acquire food from us. Once a network partner, the agency can access free and cooperatively purchased food to distribute in their communities. Network partners can pick up their order at one of the Foodbank’s warehouses in Barre, Brattleboro, Rutland or Wolcott or have it delivered to them on a regular schedule. To learn how to become a network partner, click here. 


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 200+ 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 to our Network Partners. If you know someone in need, they should first visit their local food shelf or meal site


How can I help?

Donations are very important to the ongoing success of the Foodbank. Every $10 gift allows the Foodbank to 30 meals to a neighbor in need. Please consider making a gift today. 


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. For example, kids suffer in the summer when they aren’t receiving free school breakfasts and lunches. Seniors face difficulties year-round 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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