The Farmers to Families food box program has started up again to bring an estimated $8.5 million in nutrition assistance to Vermont and parts of New Hampshire..
The program partners with local and regional producers to buy produce, dairy and meat for food insecure families. The Vermont National Guard will continue to distribute food boxes to families in need until the end of August.
Joyce DiMaggio from Essex Junction was picking up food on Monday, “When you have something like this it helps with the food bill,” she said. “With the prices of food going up, this is a big help.”
The program will be operating a little differently this time around. There will be three location sites throughout the state every weekday to reach more people and reduce traffic.
“Today is a learning curve because it is the first day of a new system, but I am sure we will get it down,” said Vermont National Guard Staff Sgt. Dan Deslauries.
On Monday, 150 cars were registered at the South Burlington location for pick-up. If you plan to get food at a distribution site, know that one person can pick up a maximum of three meals. If you do want to pick up some food, you must preregister online at the Vermont Department of Human Resources website or you can call 2-1-1.
“That way we know how many people are coming and we know how many meals we need to provide,” John Couture from the Vermont Foodbank said. “There are no overages and more importantly, there are no shortages.”
Bella Estes from Cambridge, Vermont, was also picking up food in South Burlington and said the food distributions help her family have access to healthy food.
“It is really important for families especially right now my mom is working full time and it’s hard for her to get to the grocery store. Especially for my sister who has type one diabetes”, said Estes.
According to the Vermont Food Bank, about 46% of Vermonters struggle with food deficiency. Travis Poulin from Chittenden Community action said he wanted to help out in any way he could.
“A lot of people are leaving with a lot of food and hopefully that really helps with hunger relief for at least the next couple of weeks”, said Poulin.
The Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity also offers Farm to Family coupons. These coupons help families buy locally grown produce at participating farmers markets. Income- eligible households can receive a coupon book from Community Action. F2F coupons can only be used to buy fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs.
Another food program in Vermont is 3SquaresVT. This is a federal nutrition program that can help households buy food. It can be used at grocery stores, convenience stores, co-ops, and farmers markets. To apply for this program go to 3SquaresVT’s website.