The Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf implemented the Homebound Delivery Program (HDP) in January 1998 as an alternative food resource for low-income, homebound seniors and individuals with disabilities. Since joining the team in 2008, Alysse Anton, program coordinator for the HDP, has helped grow the program to welcome clients with emotional disabilities and to include annual dinner parties where transportation is provided to bring clients together.
“I believe that everyone has a story that very often goes beyond the ‘numbers’ that we are required to report in the world of social services,” says Anton, referring to income and age eligibility. “Often the numbers hide the loneliness, shame, helplessness, isolation, depression, and anxiety suffered by our homebound clients.”
When a prospective client calls her, Anton spends time getting to know the person over the phone. It all starts with sharing a story: “I ask the client to share her story and describe what’s preventing her from accessing our services here at he food shelf. I inquire about the services she is using today. Sharing a story is a way for me to better understand how much support the client has (or doesn’t have). Does she live alone? Where is her family? Can she sometimes rely on a neighbor’s help?” In this way Anton can determine if the client would benefit from a monthly grocery delivery.
The Homebound Delivery Program provides clients with a five-day food supply every month, along with a caring visit. Each month the HDP prepares and delivers an average of 135 grocery-bags. Each bag contains about 20 pounds of staple food items (canned vegetables, soups, beans, spaghetti sauce, peanut butter, fruit, tuna, cereal, coffee, pasta, etc.). Additionally, clients receive a bag of fresh items that includes bread, fruits, vegetables, and meat. Volunteers and staff deliver bags and make visits throughout the month.
“I believe that the HDP gives volunteers an opportunity to engage with our clients in a really meaningful way,” Anton says. “There is no giver and receiver—the relationships that are formed are mutually beneficial. And this is the first step in creating a strong community.”
For more information on the Homebound Delivery Program, please visit the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf website. The Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf is one of 270 network partners of the Vermont Foodbank. To find others, visit our Agency Locator.