On November 1st, 3SquaresVT, a federal nutrition program that helps families purchase food, will see its benefits cut due to the expiration of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding. Thousands more people are expected to visit food shelves and meal sites in the coming months as a result. Meanwhile, the Vermont Foodbank and its network of 270 food shelves, meal sites, shelters, senior centers and after-school programs have seen a diminishing supply of donated food, while at the same time more Vermonters find themselves unable to make ends meet and turn to the charitable food network for help.
Starting November 1, 2013, 3SquaresVT benefits will decrease for most recipients. This lower benefit is a result of the end of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), which was passed in 2009 to stimulate the economy and save jobs during the recession. The ARRA boost has expired and families will see a reduction of at least $11 each month. Families of four will see a $36 decrease in their monthly benefit.
“We know that the charitable food system is already serving more of our neighbors than ever before,” said John Sayles, Vermont Foodbank CEO. “We are bracing for what a reduction in 3SquaresVT will mean to our food shelves and meal sites.”
And this comes on the heels of significant declines in donations of food. “Less than a month ago, our largest food rescue donor told us they would no longer be making perishable food donations to food banks throughout New England,” stated Tom Abbiati, Director of Food Resources at the Vermont Foodbank. “We were already seeing a 10% shortfall in donated product, so this additional reduction in nutritious, donated food will severely impact our food distribution to agencies throughout the state.”
The slow decline in donated food coupled with the recent announcement of our largest food rescue donor add up to an 18% reduction in donated product. The Vermont Foodbank is already facing a 2.2 million meal gap. This number will only grow when 3SquaresVT benefits are cut on November 1st. “If the Vermont Foodbank doesn’t fill this gap, who will?” asks Sayles. “But to ensure our neighbors are fed, it’s going to take all of us.”
Anyone looking for emergency food assistance or interested in making a donation to their local food shelf should visit our Food Shelf Locator. Click here for more ways to get involved with the Vermont Foodbank.
About the Vermont Foodbank
Vermont Foodbank is the state’s largest hunger-relief organization, serving Vermont through a network of 270 food shelves, meal sites, shelters, senior centers and youth programs. In FY2013, the Vermont Foodbank distributed more than 8 million pounds of food to as many as 86,000 Vermonters. The Vermont Foodbank, a member of Feeding America, is nationally recognized as one of the most effective and efficient nonprofits and food banks in the nation. To learn more about hunger in your community and to take action against hunger and poverty in Vermont, visit us on the web at www.vtfoodbank.org