The Vermont Foodbank is piloting a nutrition education program, VT Fresh, in partnership with 11 Network Partner food shelves across the state. VT Fresh aims to increase access and improve availability of fresh fruits and vegetables at community food shelves.
Vermont Foodbank staff and volunteers will be offering cooking demonstrations and taste tests 1-2 times per month at selected sites. Our hope is that this will engage visitors of community food shelves by providing an opportunity for them to taste recipes that use a specific fruit or vegetable as the primary ingredient. In addition, they’ll be able to take a recipe and primary ingredients home after they visit the food shelf that day.
We anticipate that this will increase the use of fresh fruits and vegetables that are commonly available but often times uncommonly chosen in food shelves. By giving food shelf visitors an opportunity to learn about healthy cooking, basic nutrition, and food safety we aim to empower them to make healthier food choices.
This program will utilize evidence-based nutrition education strategies as well as resources and best practices that have been used successfully in the field. Multiple educational approaches will be emphasized. The hands-on nutrition education will include short, concise, interactive messages. We will distribute family-friendly educational materials that encourage family meals and kids’ cooking as well as provide information on how to access additional food and nutrition assistance programs and resources.
A primary goal of VT Fresh is to support participating food shelves in increasing their capacity to handle more fresh produce and increasing the demand for fruits and vegetables amongst their visitors.
VT Fresh will use a publication called Vermont Fresh: A Fruit and Vegetable Handbook, which was created in partnership with Salvation Farms and Sterling College. The publication has history, storage tips and recipes for a number of fruits and vegetables. The handbook is a free PDF download, available here.
Locations of 2014 Pilot Program
- Bennington Kitchen Cupboard, Bennington
- Brattleboro Area Drop In Center, Brattleboro
- Chester-Andover Family Center, Cheser
- Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf, Burlington
- Central Vermont Community Action Council, Barre
- Fairfield Community Center, East Fairfield
- Hardwick Area Food Pantry, Hardwick
- Johnson Food Shelf, Johnson
- Our Place Drop-In Center, Bellows Falls
- Putney Food Shelf, Putney
- Springfield Family Center, Springfield
To read more about the goals and strategies of VT Fresh, click here for a PDF.
For more information on VT Fresh, contact:
Michelle Wallace, Program Manager