In 2021, more than 15,000 children in Vermont faced food insecurity and residents from around the state are doing their best to lower that number.

School is out in Colchester, but the district is once again running its summer meals program aimed at helping school-age kids get a meal they otherwise might miss. Means are available at three locations: Union Memorial School, Porters Point School and Winchester Place, said Sara Collins of the Colchester School District.

The need goes beyond school districts, said John Sayles, CEO of the Vermont Food Bank.

“We know that in the first year of COVID from data that about 1 in 3 Vermonters was in need of some assistance at one point or another,” said Sayles.

Sayles said the Food Bank offers assistance across the state through local food shelves.

“There’s one in almost every town,” he said, “and sometimes it’s a meal site where you can get a hot meal too.”

Hunger Free Vermont is also working to reduce the stigma around food insecurity. Executive Director Anore Horton says worries of what others might think can discourage people from using food-assistance programs.

“There’s just a lot of hesitancy and discomfort to overcome in understanding that these programs are valuable and for all of us when we need to use them,” Horton said.

Sara Collins of Colchester School District says helping feed kids during the summer months takes a little pressure off busy parents.

“It’s one less thing they have to worry about over the summer,” Collins said. “And to help their parents feel less stressed about the times we’re in right now.”

If you or anyone else you know is facing food insecurity issues, you can dial 211 or go to vermontfoodhelp.com.