Over 200 roads and bridges compeletly washed away. Whole towns isolated for days with food and water being dropped in by helicopter. Hundreds of homes completely destroyed and thousands flooded. Libraries, offices and businesses out of commission for the foreseable future. Vermont this week has literally seen a disaster.
As a statewide organization with a delivery network and partners in every county, the Vermont Foodbank is part of the recovery network. We are part of the state’s emergency recovery plan, and are in constant contact with Vermont Emergency Management and FEMA. During the first reponse phase, the Foodbank responds to any requests by VEM or FEMA for assistance. The recovery phase, which is beginning now, is where the Foodbank’s efforts get into high gear.
The immediate response to this devastation has been overwhelming. The Foodbank has 15 additional truckloads of food and cleaning supplies ariving over the next week to meet the increased need. Donations from Hannaford, Shaw’s, C&S Grocers, Sodexho, and national manufacturers will help restock food shelves in the hardest hit areas. A number of food shelves and meal sites have lost everything – their buildings, food, refrigerators and freezers. We are gearing up to replace infrastructure and keep our partners stocked as they provide comfort to their local communities.
Businesses stepping up include Seventh Generation, Merchant’s Bank, Gardners Supply and the August 1st Bakery and Cafe in Burlington, which is baking 200 loaves of bread and delivering them to the Community Cupboard food shelf in Rutland. Food banks in New England are also reaching out. The Good Shepard Food Bank in Maine has sent a truck, driver and warehouse supervisor to our Brattleboro Distribution Center for a few days to assist in moving the additional food and supplies to the hardest hit areas of the state. FoodShare in Connecticut is bringing up some prepared meals to Brattleboro also.
The biggest challenge, however, is on the horizon. It is sustaining this effort past the flurry of respone, into the long recovery phase.
Food shelves in hard-hit areas that were normally open one day a week or one day a month are now open every day or several times a week. This will continue for weeks and months, long past the media’s attention span. The Foodbank does not receive state or federal money to provide food and other support to food shelves and meal sites across the state. We need your support to continue the effort. Please consider a donation the your Vermont Foodbank. You can give at our website, www.vtfoodbank.org. Thank you.