For the past 7 years, local organizations have partnered up with the University of Vermont Health Network, to help end food insecurity. During a pandemic, programs like these are extremely necessary.
Since 2012, the University of Vermont Medical Center’s Nutritional Services department, has been feeding Vermont families in need. The program, which started in the beginning of July and runs through the end of September, brings together farms, health care facilities and families across the state.
Lisa Hoare, Garden Educator at the University of Vermont Medical Center, says this is a great opportunity for those in need to get fresh foods they might not be able to find. “This program is really geared toward people who might have some barriers, some current barriers to accessing some fresh vegetables and produce as they would like. You know, sometimes this is a short term challenge, and sometimes it’s a longer term challenge.”
While this is aimed at those who are food secure, Hoare also mentions that it is available to any patient who has a diet-related chronic illness. As long as you’re a patient at one of the multiple participating primary care sites, all you will need is a referral from your provider.
Last year, the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps (VYCC), an organization that hires youth and young adults to work the farm, harvested over 52,000 pounds of produce for the ‘Health Care Share program’. That’s enough food to feed 400 families. This year, they anticipate harvesting about 60,000 pounds of produce and aim to feed 415 families in need.
VYCC Director of the Food and Farms program, Susie Walsh Daloz, says the pandemic has shown their needed even more. “In the times of COVID lots of unemployment, has increased food insecurity around our state. It feels even more urgent and important that we’re taking care of our neighbors and communities by ensuring access to healthy food in what is a very trying time for a lot of folks.”
Pick-up locations are in Milton, Colchester, Hinesburgh, and Winooski, where pickups are weekly, on Thursdays from 3-5 pm.