With the onset of spring, the Vermont Foodbank has begun thinking about summer and what that means for the 153,000 Vermonters who turn to us for help each year.
Many of the households whose members visit our food shelves and meal sites throughout the year include school-aged children—many of whom will soon be out of school for the summer. And while we like to think of summer as a time for vacation, camps, fun at the pool, and time with friends, for many of the families we serve, summer is a time of increased hunger. When school ends, so does access to nutritious meals that are provided multiple times each day by schools throughout Vermont.
One of the ways the Vermont Foodbank is increasing access to food during the year, and specifically during the summer months, is through our partnership with Support and Services at Home (SASH). The Vermont Foodbank distributes fresh produce and healthy snacks to dozens of the 125 low-income family and senior housing sites that are supported by SASH throughout Vermont. The distributions are set up like farmers’ markets, providing residents with healthy food choices while creating a social environment and an opportunity to interact with SASH and Vermont Foodbank staff members.
Vermont’s child food insecurity rate is nearly 20 percent—more than 24,000 children under the age of 18 are considered food insecure according to the USDA. We know, however, that this number is artificially low because nearly 34,000 children under the age of 18 receive food from the Vermont Foodbank and our network each year. The Vermont Foodbank’s partnership with SASH will take on added significance during the summer months when food needs for low-income families with children increase.
According to Tina Gilson, a SASH coordinator with the Barre Housing Authority:
“I cannot stress what a great asset the direct food distributions from the Vermont Foodbank have been. Many of our families struggle to make ends meet and put healthy foods on the table. This is a particular challenge during the summer when kids are not receiving meals at school. The expense of groceries increases, but family incomes do not. Having the Foodbank deliver nutritious foods, helps our families not only feed their children, but also do so without buying cheap, processed, unhealthy foods. The Foodbank always brings staples like bread and potatoes, but also a variety of fruit, vegetables, and other healthy snacks like cheese and yogurt. These distributions help ease the burden for our families, and the staff is always very friendly and helpful, treating our families quite well and without judgment. We are eternally grateful for the support of the Foodbank!”
The Vermont Foodbank has provided fresh, nutritious food to more than 45 SASH-supported locations since July 2014, distributing more than 300,000 pounds of food, numbers that will increase significantly with the onset of spring and summer.
Programs like this would not exist without your support. Please consider making a gift to the Vermont Foodbank today.