The Vermont Foodbank’s 3SquaresVT Outreach team is continuing to expand its services to all eligible Vermonters who need and qualify for this food benefit.
As a federally funded program, 3SquaresVT, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program and nationally as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), is vital to the subsistence of millions of Americans who experience some form of food insecurity at some point in their lifetime. Our sights are set on building community collaborations in order to meet the needs of low-income families and individuals.
Among those who comprise this demographic of 3SquaresVT recipients, more than 62% of all participants are in families with children. Data taken from the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service shows that 34% of eligible Vermonters comprises children, making them the majority of 3SquaresVT program recipients.
The Foodbank offers many great youth programs, including the BackPack Program and School Food Pantry To-Go, addressing the necessity for filling the meal gap in schools and meeting the needs of Vermont youth. The 3SquaresVT Outreach team is working to help fill those gaps, and assist with our youth programming to enhance the potential of meeting the needs of families with students in schools.
Growing research around school meals and youth engagement shows an increase in cognitive understanding, and overwhelmingly shows that kids learn better when they’re not hungry.
Last year, the Foodbank issued data from the annual Map the Meal Gap, which included results showing that 24,530 children were experiencing food insecurity in Vermont. Of those children, 63% were likely eligible to receive 3SquaresVT food assistance.
On a national level there is a growing need for federal assistance programs in schools for programs like National School Lunch, Fresh Fruit and Vegetable, School Pantry to Go, or Breakfast Before the Bell.
The Outreach team can partner with schools and residential childcare institutions to assist students and their families. 3SquaresVT better enables individuals and families to stretch their grocery budgets each month to afford food to nourish.
Meeting one’s dietary needs in a wholesome and nutritional way is part of a fundamental and basic right that should be accessible to all.