Capstone Community Action and Network of Service Providers to Provide Emergency Food and Heating Assistance to Furloughed Government Workers

(BARRE, VT, January 23, 2019) Capstone Community Action announced today that it will immediately begin providing emergency food and heating assistance to furloughed workers in central Vermont who are struggling to meet their basic needs due to the federal government shutdown.

“The federal shutdown is creating a crisis for many Vermonters,” stated Sue Minter, Executive Director of Capstone Community Action. “We’ve been hearing from furloughed workers asking for heating assistance and we know that they are struggling to pay their bills. That is why we are expanding our programs to help meet their needs.”

“Thousands of Central Vermonters are already struggling to put food on their table and heat their homes,” Minter added. “This shutdown is stressing already vulnerable households. It has created fear, confusion and barriers to accessing key federal benefits. We want to ensure that Vermonters have food, heat and hope.”

Today’s announcement featured a wide array of human service providers from the food security, affordable housing, health care and senior service industries who have joined together to address the shutdown’s impact upon those at risk. Represented was the Vermont Foodbank, Hunger Free Vermont, Green Mountain United Way, Central Vermont Council on Aging, Department of Health, Washington County Mental Health Services, Central Vermont Medical Center, Downstreet, VSECU, National Life Group, and delegates from Senator Patrick Leahy’s Office, Senator Bernie Sander’s Office and Congressman Peter Welch’s Office.

“Our neighbors deserve better than having the federal nutrition programs that serve as the backstop for our nation’s response to hunger yanked out from under them,” says Vermont Foodbank CEO, John Sayles. “That is why the Vermont Foodbank and our network of 215 food shelves and meal sites across the state is teaming up with local partners to prepare for the increase in need. We are planning to provide additional food, reach out to the 1,300 furloughed workers and contractors to let them know where to turn for help, and raise funds to support these efforts. It is critical for our community to band together during this challenging time to ensure everyone has the food they need.”

Representing THRIVE, an Accountable Community for Health in the Washington and Northern Orange Counties, Tawnya Kristen of Green Mountain United way noted: “We are committed to not just the mission of our individual agency, but more importantly to join together under THRIVE to leverage every possible resource we have in meeting the immediate challenges our communities are facing due to the shutdown.”

Capstone Community Action launched Fuel Your Neighbors, in partnership with VSECU, that raises money to support critical services of emergency food and heat. National Life Group has offered to match the next $5,000 donated to this initiative. “National Life is proud to support Capstone’s Fuel Your Neighbors program and encourages others to do the same,” said Beth Rusnock, president of the National Life Group Foundation. “This program is a bright spot for our neighbors who struggle during Vermont’s long, dark winter.”

Capstone operates the largest food shelf in central Vermont. In 2018, more than 5,000 people utilized Capstone’s emergency food and heating assistance. As the federal government shutdown continues, Capstone anticipates that the number of Vermonters in need will increase. Recipients of 3SquaresVT (formerly known as food stamps) may exhaust their monthly food allowance within a few weeks.

For households in need of assistance, contact 802-479-1053. Community members can help support this effort with a donation at

Capstone Community Action was founded in 1965 and works to alleviate the suffering caused by poverty and to create economic opportunity for people and communities. Capstone’s programs include emergency food, heat assistance, housing counseling and homelessness intervention, workforce development, home weatherization, and child and family development programs in Early Head Start/Head Start. We serve over 15,000 people through these programs each year.


Vermont Foodbank is the state’s largest hunger-relief organization, providing nutritious food through a network of more than 300 community partners – food shelves, meal sites, schools, hospitals, and housing sites. Food insecurity has increased dramatically as a result of the pandemic, economic disruptions, and recent flooding. The Vermont Foodbank and its network have been on the front lines, working to ensure that everyone has the food they need to maintain their health. Last year, the Vermont Foodbank provided over 12 million pounds of food to people throughout Vermont. 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.