Upper Valley Everyone Eats and Vermont Everyone Eats is Put on Pause

The following is a press release from Vermont Everyone Eats, for which Vital Communities is the Upper Valley hub, operating as Upper Valley Everyone Eats.

SPRINGFIELD, December 29, 2020 —The innovative Vermont Everyone Eats program that has provided free restaurant to-go meals to COVID-impacted Vermonters since August is being put on hold as of December 31. Everyone Eats has engaged over 170 Vermont farms and food producers, played a key role in keeping over 150 restaurants in business, and provided over 500,000 meals to members of communities in all 14 Vermont counties. This creative program was made possible in 2020 with CARES Act funding through a grant from VT Agency of Commerce and Community Development to Southeastern Vermont Community Action (SEVCA) and partnerships with 14 Community Hubs around Vermont. All program partners would like to continue and are working to identify new sources of funding to continue in 2021.  

As we continue to live with this health pandemic and economic crisis, the need in Vermont is significant. From one recipient: “Everyone Eats has been a lifeline. In addition to providing us with amazing food, it has also given us a much-needed break. We are living in difficult times and every little bit of connection with our community is invaluable.” From another: “The quality, time, and care that has been put into these meals is nothing short of outstanding. Finding a way to be resourceful and still feeding us as if we were eating in a restaurant means so much.”

Vermont Everyone Eats is on pause starting December 31st while the partners work tirelessly to explore funding options through various channels. Given the ongoing nature of the pandemic and its impact upon our local economies, there is effort and great hope that funding will be available to restart the program.  As Jean Hamilton, Everyone Eats Statewide Coordinator, says: “This program was born through a collaboration of lawmakers, state agencies, non-profits, and grassroots organizers. Our partnerships continue to be strong and we are optimistic about relaunching Everyone Eats with a new funding source ASAP.” 

Hamilton adds, “It has been an honor to work on Everyone Eats with so many caring partners across the state and heartening to see our community weave closer together, supporting one another through this difficult time. We will do everything we can to keep supporting Vermont restaurants, farms, and our vulnerable neighbors. If you need help right now, please dial 2-1-1 to learn about numerous programs that are available to support you. And if you have help to give, please support your neighbors in need, including local restaurants. Remember, if you want them to be here tomorrow, please buy local today.”  

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Vermont Everyone Eats provides nutritious meals to Vermonters in need of food assistance as well as a stabilizing source of income for Vermont restaurants, farmers, and food producers. Vermont Everyone Eats is funded by the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund and made possible through a grant provided by the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development to Southeastern Vermont Community Action 

For more information visit www.vteveryoneeats.org or email vee@sevca.org 

Climate Change Resources

Upper Valley Adaptation Workgroup and Vital Communities present:

Upper Valley Climate Change Leadership Academy

RESOURCES

Session Goals:

Our shared question for this session: What role can we play, as Climate Change Leaders, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

We have three goals for Session 2:

  1. Develop common language, framing, and context around the topic of “climate mitigation” in the Upper Valley. Where do our emissions come from and what will it take to reduce them?
  2. Compile a library of what works to reduce emissions, especially examples where Climate Change Leaders (like you!) can take action and make a difference.
  3. Discuss what we can do as Climate Change Leaders in the Upper Valley to make an impact with respect to greenhouse gas emissions. Together you will begin to capture ideas for possible Leadership Academy projects.
Session Materials:
Resources:

State Climate and Energy Goals/Plans

Vermont:

New Hampshire:

Carbon Calculators & At Home Tips

Carbon Offsets

Best Practices for Sustainable Development (International)

Carbon Sequestration

Food / Agriculture

Transportation

Adaptation Session

AGENDA:

  • Climate Change Adaptation Presentation Sherry Godlewski, Resilience and Adaptation Manager, NH Department of Environmental Services
  • Stakeholder Activity 1- (Notes)
    • Objective: From your stakeholder group’s perspective, discuss the climate impacts that we are/will be experiencing, and adaptation opportunities to become more resilient.
  • Climate Scenario Roleplay Activity 2-(Notes)
    • Objective: Gain an understanding of what’s important to other stakeholders, and how you might address a climate impact in your community.
  • Wrap Up
    • Evaluations
    • Community Projects
    • Next session preview

HOMEWORK Due January 3rd:

 

 

LINKS:

AGENDA

Welcome & Introductions 

Dartmouth Student Project Announcement

Project Idea Pitch 

  • Fill out project idea template
  • Anyone who has an idea will give a 1 minute pitch
  • If you don’t have a project idea in mind, listen to other ideas and see if there is interest in partnering with other 2CLA leaders on their project

Project Pitch Discussion/Convergence 

  • Participants self-select into groups around the room
  • Opportunity to find potential partners and form project teams, ask questions about project ideas

Project Charter: Specifics on action plan (2CLA Project Charter Template)          

  • Instruction on how to fill out charter
  • Workshop time
  • Takeways

Wrap up

  • Evaluations
  • Preview of next session: Leadership & Skills development
  • Post session HW: Complete project template, give feedback to another group

2019 Leadership Academy Meeting Dates

October 9, 2019
November 13, 2019
January 8, 2020
February 12, 2020
March 11, 2020
April 8, 2020

Participants are expected to attend all meetings, and must attend at least five meetings to graduate.

Questions?

Contact Ana Mejia
ana@vitalcommunities.org
802-291-9100 x114

What is the Climate Change Leadership Academy (2CLA)?

2CLA, a new project of the Upper Valley Adaptation Workgroup (UVAW) and Vital Communities, will educate, inspire, and prepare 25 Upper Valley participants to take meaningful action on climate change mitigation and adaptation in their communities. Participants will:

  • Learn what is happening globally and locally and what can be done about it.
  • Participate in presentations, group discussions, and collaborative work sessions.
  • Design and launch a project as a climate leader to make a difference in their own community.
  • Graduate ready to inspire, motivate, and encourage others to take action.

Each participant will develop a project individually or as part of a small team. Each project will have support and input from the rest of the class. These projects may take any form and might involve art, public education, community work days, or any other activity that generates positive community impact related to climate change. Projects will be shared at a public celebration at the end of the program.

Special Thanks

The 2019 Climate Change Leadership Academy is made possible in part by support from the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences at Dartmouth.

About the Upper Valley Adaptation Workgroup

The Upper Valley Adaptation Workgroup (UVAW) is a bi-state, multi-stakeholder working group of leaders and partner organizations. Started in December 2011, the workgroup meets monthly to focus on building climate resilient communities in the Upper Valley.

Our Working Definition of Climate Resiliency

Climate Resiliency is the ability of a community to anticipate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from climate impacts in a way that minimizes significant disruption to our lives and impacts on our shared resources. This includes our health, safety, built environment, food availability, natural resources, wildlife, and financial strength.

Climate change is not some distant problem – it is happening here and now in the Upper Valley. In recent years, we have seen climate disruptions affect our communities in the form of droughts, deluges, ice and hail storms, intense cold snaps, and sudden heat waves. We must recognize these increasingly frequent extreme weather events for what they are: our new normal. 

Stay up to date for our upcoming forums & events and connect with adaptation resources and experts.

UVAW Members

Sherry Godlewski
NH Department of Environmental Services, Co-Chair UVAW
sgodlewski@des.state.nh.us

Alice Ely
Public Health Council of the Upper Valley
alice.ely@uvpublichealth.org

Michael Simpson
Antioch University New England
msimpson@antioch.edu

Gregory Norman
Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center
gregory.a.norman@hitchcock.org

Alex Jaccaci
Hypertherm, Co-Chair UVAW
alex.jaccaci@hypertherm.com

Kevin Geiger
Two Rivers Ottauquechee Regional Commission
kgeiger@trorc.org

Julia Griffin
Town of Hanover
julia.griffin@hanovernh.org

Lizann Peyton
Nonprofit Consultant
lizann.peyton@gmail.com

Ana Mejia
Vital Communities
ana@vitalcommunities.org

Sarah Brock
Vital Communities
sarah@vitalcommunities.org

Meghan Butts
Upper Valley Lake Sunapee Regional Planning Commission
mbutts@uvlsrpc.org

Mark Goodwin
City of Lebanon
mark.goodwin@lebcity.com

Rosi Kerr
Dartmouth College
rosalie.e.kerr@dartmouth.edu

Beth Sawin
Climate Interactive
esawin@climateinteractive.org

Lisa Wise
UNH Extension and NH Sea Grant
lisa.wise@unh.edu

Erich Osterberg
Dartmouth College
erich.c.osterberg@dartmouth.edu

Jenny Levy
Hypertherm
jenny.levy@hypertherm.com

Cameron Wake
University of NH, Carbon Solutions New England
cameron.wake@unh.edu

Need to Contact Us?

Ana Mejia, Climate Projects Coordinator at Vital Communities | ana@vitalcommunities.org, 802-291-9100 x114

Alex Jaccaci & Sherry Godlewski, UVAW Co-Chairs | alex.jaccaci@hypertherm.com and sherry.godlewski@des.nh.gov

Video Excerpts: “Buy Local to Feed Local: Upper Valley Everyone Eats,” Nov. 24

At a virtual gathering on November 24, people from social service agencies and restaurants across the Upper Valley gave powerful testimony about the beneficial impact Upper Valley Everyone Eats has had on local farms, restaurants, and people in need.

Upper Valley Everyone Eats is the local hub of Vermont Everyone Eats, which pays hard-hit Vermont restaurants $10/meal to prepare free, nutritious meals for Vermonters in need. Vermont Everyone Eats is funded by the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund and made possible through a grant provided by the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development to Southeastern Vermont Community Action (SEVCA). Upper Valley Everyone Eats will provide ~40,000 meals to patrons across 17 meal sites between September 8 and December 31.

Here are video excerpts from the event.

Jump into Climate Action In Hartford!

In December 2019 the Town of Hartford and the Hartford School District adopted the historic Joint Resolution Declaring a Climate Emergency, setting in motion an urgently needed positive first step to addressing climate change at the local level. Hartford’s Climate Advisory Committee (CAC) was formed to put the Resolution into action. Now, the time has come to once again engage the entire community in shaping the future of Hartford for the betterment of all residents.

Volunteers are needed to help the Town of Hartford create a Climate Action Plan. Working with paleBLUEdot, a climate action-planning consultancy, we must gather together to build a plan that ensures that Hartford thrives even as it works to mitigate the impacts of climate change on all and to adapt to the changing climate.

Creative solutions and a wide array of perspectives are essential to our success. Hartford residents, as well as residents of Lebanon, Hanover, Norwich and the surrounding area are all welcome. 

Representatives from local government, public agencies, local colleges/universities, the business community, environmental groups, social equity groups, and the general community are needed.

Eight general working groups are envisioned; individuals with experience or interest in any of these areas are encouraged to identify one or more areas of interest as part of their contribution to the planning team.

✔ transportation and land use

✔ waste management

✔ local food and agriculture

✔ energy and the built environment

✔ health and safety

✔ water, wastewater management, flood control

✔ greenspaces

✔ economic development and the climate economy

 

The Commitment:

Climate Action Team volunteers will participate in four workshops over the course of several months to explore, review, prioritize, and refine elements of the Climate Action Plan. The expected time commitment is in the range of 20-30 hours.

Interested? Contact Hartford’s Climate Advisory Committee to sign up for the Climate Action Team.

Hartford’s Climate Advisory Committee

Erik Krauss (ekrauss@bluevertex.com)

Ana Mejia (ana@vitalcommunities.org)

Jack Spicer (jacktspicer@gmail.com)

Special Sessions for VT & NH Legislators

Vital Communities is hosting four virtual meetings for legislators in the Upper Valley region, from both New Hampshire and Vermont, connecting them with key voices and resource people on critical issues.

Home Availability in Our Region
Wed, Nov 18 & Tues, Dec 1, 9 – 10 am
Via Zoom; email Mike Kiess (mike@vitalcommunities.org) to RSVP and receive link.

Upper Valley legislators are invited to attend either of these discussions about opportunities to meet our collective housing needs, with members of Vital Communities’ Corporate Council. The Council is a volunteer group of this region’s largest and best-known institutions, businesses, and nonprofits that collectively employ more than 16,000 people and reach well over half the households in the region. Council members are deeply committed to working across boundaries to meet shared challenges.

Each session includes:

  • Update on housing-related legislative actions and opportunities in Montpelier and Concord (brief presentations);
  • Update on Upper Valley actions and opportunities, including new homes data from 2019 and in pipeline (brief presentations);
  • Identification of collaboration opportunities (breakout group discussion followed by report to the large group).

 

Buy Local to Feed Locals: Upper Valley Everyone Eats
Tues, Nov 24 , 1-2 pm

Register here for the Zoom event.

Join us  at a virtual panel and discussion about Upper Valley Everyone Eats, our local hub of the statewide coronavirus relief program Vermont Everyone Eats. We’ll hear directly from participating restaurants, meal sites, farms, and project coordinators, as they share their experiences with Upper Valley Everyone Eats, and discuss its impacts. We’ll save plenty of time for questions, too.

Vermont Everyone Eats pays hard hit Vermont restaurants $10/meal to prepare free, nutritious meals for Vermonters in need. Upper Valley Everyone Eats will provide ~35,000 meals to patrons across 17 meal sites between September 8 and December 18. We also may continue to the end of December, and we may be able to freeze meals for later distribution.

Vermont Everyone Eats is funded by the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund and made possible through a grant provided by the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development to Southeastern Vermont Community Action (SEVCA).

Our Vermont legislators were a part of making this program possible, so thank you! We particularly invite you to attend, to gain a clearer picture of UVEE’s impacts. However, we welcome all officials to attend to hear about the innovative program. We are also inviting members of the Upper Valley Hunger Council, and Upper Valley Strong, and interested members of the public.

 

From the State House to the Farm House
Wednesday, December 16, 10 am to noon
Via Zoom.  RSVP (required) here  

Farmers and legislators are invited to this third annual event, hosted by farms across Vermont and focusing on citizen advocacy at the intersection of the working lands, community members, and policymakers. This virtual event is about building relationships among farmers/farmworkers and the (recently!) elected legislators who represent them, through dialogue about how policy can support the transition to a resilient and equitable agriculture that benefits all of our people, communities, and landscapes. In the midst of a year where so much has changed on farms and within our greater food web, and so many structural inequities have been exacerbated, there is much to discuss.  We look forward to this conversation.

The event will include regional breakouts with dialogue between farmers/farmworkers and legislators. Luna Bleu Farm will “host” the Windsor County session and Orange County will be “hosted” by Cedar Circle Farm & Education Center.

Details here.

Housing Help in New Hampshire!

Housing Stabilization Services (HSS) include shelters, rental assistance for both eviction prevention and rapid re-housing, security deposit loan program, tenant services, supported housing programs and facilities, outreach/coordinated entry, commodity foods distribution, commodity supplemental food program for seniors, workshops, etc. Our newest initiative is the Housing Relief Program!

NOTE: Deadline for completing applications is Dec 18, 2020.

The Housing Relief Program is designed to assist those with a COVID-related financial challenge (loss of income or increase of expenses due to COVID) and program details include:

  1. Help with past due mortgage, up to $2500, from April 1st– forward and/or
  2. Help with past due and/or current rent or utility assistance from April 1st– forward and/or
  3. Assistance with initial move-in costs such as first month’s rent
  4. The HousingRelief Program does NOT assist directly with car repairs, childcare expenses, property taxes, etc. The State has provided us with additional clarification that any funds paid out must be to help sustain housing (back due mortgage, back due and/or current rent, utilities such as electric bill, phone/internet, water bill, etc.). If it can be demonstrated that there was an increase in some of the expenses, due to COVID, that we cannot pay, the household may find themselves eligible for one of the approved forms of assistance above

If someone needs information about the Housing Relief Program, they can reach out to Jenna Tacy, jtacy@scshelps.org; she can also be reached by phone at 719-4294; as stated above, Lori Hathaway can assist as well; if you are working with someone and you know that it is definitely COVID-related, they can be referred directly to our website at: www.scshelps.org

Other questions? Email Mike Kiess at mike@vitalcommunities.org.

Housing Help in Vermont!

During these difficult times, new financial help programs are available to many Vermonters. The state does not want people to be struggling to pay bills, so please apply, even if you don’t usually get public help. Vermont Legal Aid has more information on these programs on its website: http://vtlawhelp.org.

NOTE: Application deadline for many programs is December 23, 2020. Please pass the word to anyone you can help!

Vermont Legal Aid is also able to help individual tenants and homeowners. Call them at 1-800-889-2047 or go to http://vtlawhelp.org. For the fastest response, leave a message explaining what you need in a sentence or two.

  1. Help with past-due rent

For help with past-due rent, Vermonters should apply for the Rental Housing Stabilization Program through the Vermont State Housing Authority (VSHA). Tenants and landlords apply for this program at the same time. There are no income limits. VSHA pays landlords directly to bring the tenant’s rent account current. This program will last until December 30 or until the money runs out. You can get help now, and apply again if you still need help later. Learn more about this help for paying past-due rent on our website or reach us for help.

  1. Moving to a new home

Some people need to move because of life safety problems with their rental unit, the rent is too expensive, they have trouble with the landlord or other tenants, or the unit is too big or too small. If you need to move and have found a new landlord, apply together for the Money to Move program at vsha.org. The program can cover the money needed to move in, such as first and last month’s rent and security deposit. It also may cover rent payments through the end of this year. Learn more about this help on our website or reach us for help.

  1. Emergency housing for people who do not have a home

The Department of Children and Family’s (DCF) Economic Services Division is extending housing supports for homeless households. For more information or to apply, contact the Benefits Service Center at 1-800-479-6151.  Follow this link for the program rules.

If you stay in a shelter or motel, you need to participate in “coordinated entry.” Through coordinated entry, you will be assigned a housing case manager who will help you access subsidies and programs to help you get permanent housing. To learn more about coordinated entry, call 2-1-1. If you worked with your case manager to apply for a subsidy or other program and your application was denied, call Vermont Legal Aid at 1-800-889-2047.

  1. Past-Due Utility Bills

The Department of Public Services (DPS) can help pay past-due utility bills. The bills can be for electric, natural gas, landline telephone service or regulated private water bills (not municipal water). Homes and small businesses are eligible. There are no income limits, and you don’t have to have a disconnect notice. However, your difficulty paying the bill must be linked to COVID. The funding only covers arrearages after March 1, 2020. If you need help to fill out an application online, contact your local community action agency. Learn more on the Department of Public Service website.

  1. Mortgage Assistance Program (and maybe Property Tax Assistance)

This program can pay up to six past-due mortgage payments on your home. It is available to all Vermonters who:

  • are at least 1 month past due on mortgage payments
  • have a COVID-related hardship, and
  • meet the income requirements.

Even people who have mortgages in forbearance are eligible. If you have a mortgage and are behind on property taxes that you pay directly to the town, you may also be eligible for assistance. Vermont Housing Finance Agency (VHFA) is taking applications for the Vermont COVID Emergency Mortgage Assistance Program. (You do not need to have a VHFA mortgage to be eligible.) Learn more about the mortgage assistance on our website or reach us for help.

Questions? Email Mike Kiess at mike@vitalcommunities.org.

Building Bridges in Our Community

At this writing, the outcome of the Presidential election isn’t clear. But what is clear is that the election has strained the social fabric of communities across our country, including our own. Passions are high and people are polarized. 

Despite the divisions, we must move forward. No matter who is in the White House, we face enormous tasks, from the immediate hardships caused by the pandemic to the longer-term challenges threatening the civic, economic, and environmental vitality of the Upper Valley.

What actions will move us forward as a region?  We can lean on principles that we at Vital Communities consider fundamental to our work. 

Commonality: We all share certain needs and concerns, regardless of our political outlook, such as food, housing, employment, a future for our children, and a love of place. These commonalities can inspire conversation and problem-solving.

Communication: We want respectful, open-minded discussion, in which our entire community is represented and feels heard, enabling a vibrant exchange of ideas and a shared sense of ownership in the outcome. 

Community: We achieve impact by working at the grassroots, neighbor to neighbor, town to town. We cherish each other and what our communities grow, produce, and create.

Whatever the nation’s leadership, if we lean on these principles we can make great things happen in our communities and be a beacon of hope for others elsewhere.

Photo: The Windsor-Cornish Covered Bridge, by Dan Hertzler.

Why Bank Locally?

Where You Bank Makes a Difference!

When you use a bank or credit union rooted in our community, you’re making a conscious choice to support our local economy. Local First Champion member Mascoma Bank is a great example of why it’s important to move your money to a local institution. Mascoma Bank has been committed to investing in and lending in our region since 1894. They prioritize supporting Upper Valley communities, small businesses, and entrepreneurs – keeping our economy and community vital!

5 Reasons to Move Your Money and Bank Locally

1. Get the Same Services at Lower Cost
Most locally owned banks and credit unions offer the same array of services, from online bill paying to debit and credit cards, at a much lower cost than big banks. Average fees at small banks and credit unions are substantially lower than at big banks, according to national data. Studies show that small financial institutions also offer, on average, better interest rates on savings and better terms on credit cards and other loans.

2. Put Your Money to Work Growing Your Local Economy
Small businesses, which create the majority of new jobs, depend heavily on small, local banks for financing. Although small and mid-sized banks control less than one-quarter of all bank assets, they account for more than half of all small business lending. Big banks, meanwhile, allocate relatively little of their resources to small businesses. The largest 20 banks, which now control 57 percent of all bank assets, devote only 18 percent of their commercial loan portfolios to small business.

3. Keep Decision-Making Local
At local banks and credit unions, loan approvals and other key decisions are made locally by people who live in the community, have face-to-face relationships with their customers, and understand local needs. Because of this personal knowledge, local financial institutions are often able to approve small business and other loans that big banks would reject. In the case of credit unions, control ultimately rests with the customers, who are also member/owners.

4. Back Institutions that Share a Commitment to Your Community
The fortunes of local banks and credit unions are intimately tied to the fortunes of their local communities. The more the community prospers, the more the local bank benefits. This is why many local banks and credit unions are involved in their communities. Big banks, by contrast, are not tethered to the places where they operate. Indeed, they often use a community’s deposits to make investments in other regions or on Wall Street.

5. Support Productive Investment, Not Gambling
The primary activity of almost all small banks and credit unions is to turn deposits into loans and other productive investments. Meanwhile, big banks devote a sizeable share of their resources to speculative trading and other Wall Street bets that may generate big profits for the bank, but provide little economic or social value for the rest of us and can put the entirefinancial system at risk if they go bad.

Workshop: Converting Your Bike to an E-Bike

On Monday, November 9, 7 pm, a free Zoom workshop will teach you how to convert a regular bike to an e-bike!

Over summer and fall, the 2020 Upper Valley E-bike Library program gave a lot of Upper Valley residents the opportunity to discover how an electric-assist bike can be part of our regular transportation.

One of the least expensive options for obtaining an e-bike is to convert a regular bike, and here’s an online workshop to show us how!

Monday, 11/9, 7 pm

888 475 4499 US Toll-free   877 853 5257 US Toll-free    Meeting ID: 883 6192 9021

The workshop will feature a video of an actual conversion with lots of direct Q/A as we view it. A panel of experienced e-bike converters will share what they’ve learned from their trials and errors, insights on various makes and models of motors and batteries, and recommendations on the right materials and tools to have on hand before you dive in.

This workshop is organized by the Norwich Energy Committee, with funding from the Norwich Women’s Club and technical support from CATV.

Questions? Contact linda.c.gray@gmail.com.

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