Food shelves, activists vow to step up as USDA hunger program expires in Vermont

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The Farmers to Families food box program is just days away from ending as there are no federal funds or authorization to continue the program beyond October.

John Sayles, CEO of Vermont Food Bank, says that while Vermont has the lowest COVID-19 infection rate in the U.S. and unemployment continues to drop, food insecurity among Vermonters is a problem.

“There are tens of thousands of meals being distributed every day all across the state and every single one of those meals is being scooped up,” Sayles said.

Anore Horton, executive director of Hunger-Free Vermont, said the problem will be compounded by the expiration of other federal relief programs expiring. “There is no question that when all of these additional supports end we are going to face increases in hunger and food insecurity over the winter in our state,” said

Fortunately, Vermonters can access food through local food shelves and meal sites.

Anna McMahon of Feeding Chittenden, the state’s largest direct service emergency food provider in the state, said the organization is prepared to help anyone who needs it.

“We would encourage them to come to our location in the Old North End,” she said. “We’ll make sure to get them a box of canned and dried goods as well as some fresh produce and bread.

Horton said families and individuals may also be eligible for 3Squares Vermont, the state’s food-stamp program.

“You will get it on an electronic benefits card, it’s like a debit card and you go to your grocery store of choice and you choose the food items that you want that are right for you,” she said. “If you stop and think for a moment, about what $500, $600, $200 additional money for food a month would mean for you,” said Horton.

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