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.”
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