Thousands of Vermont school children will continue to get a healthy breakfast, thanks to the generosity of Vermonters.
Shaw’s Supermarket shoppers across Vermont helped make this possible, raising $59,000 dollars in donations. For four years, the supermarket chain has partnered with Hunger-Free Vermont for what’s called the Nourishing Neighbors Campaign, and 2020 proved to be a record-breaking year for both community-minded organizations.
“Through our partnership with the 19 Shaw’s stores across Vermont, they and their really generous customers were able to raise a lot of money to help support our work to expand the reach of school breakfast programs across the state,” said Becca Mitchell, Child Nutrition Initiatives Manager with Hunger-Free Vermont.
Mitchell says before the pandemic, school breakfasts were integrated into the school day.
“So that’s an effort that’s been growing over the last few years. And the pandemic naturally shifted that,” said Mitchell.
She says, as a result, schools had to quickly change their food service models, some adopting pick-up systems with the help of parents or support staff, others utilized buses in the spring to drop meals off.
“Hunger-Free Vermont wants to continue to that good work that’s happening as well as work with schools to think about how do we maintain that momentum and that increase in breakfast service,” said Mitchell.
Teresa Edington, Spokesperson for Shaw’s said in a statement:
“Shaw’s has a long history of supporting hunger relief organizations across New England. We are proud that our September Nourishing Neighbor program is focused on providing children with a nutritious breakfast to help kick-start the day.”
The $59,000 was raised in the month of September alone will support Hunger-Free Vermont’s outreach with Vermont public schools, which supports 80,000 K-12 students.
“So, we have about a half a school year left in this 2020-2021 school year, and I think our focus is continuing to get the word out about the power of school breakfast, why every family with school age kids should participate, and that they know where to get those meals,” said Mitchell.