More fresh produce to be distributed in Rutland County to those struggling with hunger
When the Vermont Foodbank began looking for space in Rutland, Rutland Area Farm and Food Link (RAFFL) Executive Director, Tara Kelly, was quick to see the possibilities. Since 2009, RAFFL has been gleaning tens of thousands of pounds of farm fresh product from around the greater Rutland region and donating it to local non-profits who are feeding a food insecure population. For the past five years, Thomas Dairy has generously provided RAFFL’s Glean Team with cooler space to store the produce between harvest and delivery.
“Our farm partners tell us there are additional pounds of produce that could be gleaned,” said Kelly, “but we knew our expansion would significantly interrupt the operations of our long-time partners at Thomas Dairy. So, we began talking with Vermont Foodbank about the possibility of collaboration.”
When Vermont Foodbank took possession of a 24,000 square foot space in Rutland in September 2014, it provided a win-win opportunity that will allow even more farm fresh produce to get to people who need food assistance.
Last year, the Foodbank distributed 1.2 million pounds of fresh produce throughout Vermont—the most in their nearly 30 year history. The partnership between the Vermont Foodbank and RAFFL will help increase fresh produce distributed to food insecure people in Rutland County, though the Foodbank’s network of food shelves, meal sites, senior centers and youth programs in the area. The Foodbank will also utilize direct distribution as a way to ensure that produce is distributed quickly and efficiently.“We are thrilled to partner with RAFFL to provide the Rutland region with the food they need, where and when they need it,” said John Sayles, Vermont Foodbank CEO. “With RAFFL’s expertise, we expect to provide 30,000 more pounds of produce in the Rutland region during the 2015 growing season.”
If you are a farmer or community volunteer interested in learning more about this partnership, please visit RAFFL online or call RAFFL at 802-417-1528 to get involved.
The Rutland Area Farm and Food Link (RAFFL) has been serving Rutland County and its bordering areas since 2005. RAFFL promotes local food knowledge, production and market opportunities for farmers and community members throughout our region. RAFFL is also a member of the Vermont Gleaning Collective, a network of professionally organized, community-based gleaning programs from around Vermont, supported by Salvation Farms.