Upper Valley Everyone Eats Hits $1 Million Mark

As it wraps up its ninth month of paying local restaurants $10/meal to prepare free nutritious meals for Vermonters in need, Upper Valley Everyone Eats (UVEE) is logging a big milestone: the 100,000th meal! At $10/meal, that’s $1 million in revenue for local restaurants. And we’re not stopping there either: thanks to the program’s stipulation that restaurants source at least 10% of their ingredients locally, area farms and food processors are seeing some of the benefit, too—$64,000 so far. That’s what we call a triple bottom line!

We’re in awe of our restaurant partners who prepare, package, and deliver these incredible meals every week to our many distribution partners (over 45 Upper Valley food shelves, community dinners, and schools!). These restaurants have shown, week in, week out, on top of everything else they have going on, that they are committed to serving our community with their culinary skills and neighborly compassion. Please join us in thanking them: Maple Street Catering (White River Junction), Global Village Cuisine (Windsor), the Windsor Diner (Windsor), Moon & Stars Arepas (Vershire), The Little Grille (Bradford), Tacocat (Randolph), Piecemeal Pies (White River Junction; past participant), Lake Morey Resort (Fairlee; past participant), Simon Pearce (Quechee; past participant), and the Newbury Village Store (Newbury; past participant).
We’re also grateful to our distribution partners, especially the Upper Valley Haven, Listen Community Services, and Willing Hands, who have helped coordinate this far-reaching program from day one, and a wonderful crew of volunteer drivers who have helped us get meals from Point A to Point B for the past few months. We wouldn’t have been able to serve some of the farther-flung food shelves and schools in our region without you!
Here are the numbers:
Total meal count: 100,000 (by the end of this week)
Individuals served: 65,000
Households served: 42,000
Seniors served: 22,000

Vermont Everyone Eats Serves Its One-Millionth Meal!

On Thursday, April 29, Vermont Everyone Eats, an innovative COVID-19 response program, is celebrating 1 million restaurant meals served to Vermonters experiencing food insecurity. The program was launched in August 2020 with an allocation of $5 million of the state’s Coronavirus Relief Fund contracted by the Agency of Commerce and Community Development to Southeastern Vermont Community Action Agency. The program would have expired in December, but widespread community support and advocacy empowered program and state partners to secure additional funding through FEMA and the program has been extended through the state of emergency.

Of that 1 million meals, about 90,400 will have been served by Upper Valley Everyone Eats (UVEE), the Upper Valley hub for the program, coordinated by Vital Communities in partnership with numerous social service agencies. More recently, Vital Communities and partners obtained funding to create a pilot program modeled on UVEE in Claremont, NH, called Claremont Everyone Eats.

“Everyone Eats is an example of what we as a society can do when we think outside the box and use our resources in innovative ways,” said Vital Communities Executive Director Sarah Jackson. “It has helped restaurants survive by paying them to do make delicious, healthful food for those who need it most, and has strengthened relationships among social service agencies and the food community. It’s been a privilege for Vital Communities to coordinate Upper Valley Everyone Eats.”

This week, UVEE welcomes three new restaurants into its fold, according to UVEE Coordinator Lauren Griswold: The Newbury Village Store & Thistle Cafe (Newbury), The Little Grille (Bradford), and Tacocat (Randolph). It says farewell and thanks to Simon Pearce (Quechee) and Piecemeal Pies (WRJ). Other participating businesses are Maple Street Catering (Hartford), Global Village Food (Windsor), Lake Morey Resort (Fairlee), Moon and Stars (Vershire), and the Windsor Diner (Windsor).

Vermont Everyone Eats program design draws on many of Vermont’s strengths. It puts Vermont’s independent restaurants and robust local food system at the center of feeding their communities. Over 200 Vermont restaurants have contributed to the one million meals, which have contained nearly $1 million of Vermont ingredients.

UVEE is “beyond phenomenal,” said Mel Hall, co-owner of Global Village Foods “I was shocked at how fast it came together, how comprehensive it was, and how it brought in a steady revenue stream for those of us in production.”

The program was created and has developed through powerful, cross-sector, public-private partnerships. Fourteen community “hubs” execute the programming on the ground in all 14 Vermont counties. These hubs represent hundreds of community organizations who are working together to contract meals from participating restaurants, manage delivery logistics, promote the program, and ensure the meals are delivered safely to meal recipients. Jean Hamilton, Vermont Everyone Eats Statewide Coordinator acknowledges the important role of the community hubs, “Vermont is well-known for its community organizations and thank goodness for them. In less than 9 months, our program was launched from a concept to this moment, 1 million local meals delivered to neighbors all across our state. We were able to do this because of the community organizations that stepped up and got right to work. They are the backbone of our community resilience.”

Hamilton sees this moment to celebrate the collective action of the program: “It is the people behind VEE that we are really celebrating today. Starting with the individuals who were courageous enough to step forward and ask for help, the meal recipients and the restauranteurs, to the farmers and food producers, the lawmakers and agency staff, the members of our statewide taskforce, and especially the hub organizers and volunteers – Vermont Everyone Eats is a model of how our communities can rise up together holding our shared vulnerability as an inspiration for progress. Who is your Everyone Eats hero? Please join us in celebrating them today.”

Everyone Eats Comes to Claremont!

Thanks to a grant from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, the Upper Valley Everyone Eats model is crossing the Connecticut River: Vital Communities is working with Claremont, NH, partners to pilot a program in that city that will provide restaurant-made meals to people in need.

Beginning March 25, three participating restaurants (The Hitchin’ Post, Sunshine Cookshop, and The Common Man) will each prepare 65 meals per week for the Claremont Soup Kitchen, for a total of 195 meals per week. The restaurants will receive $10.90 per meal ($10 plus a 9% New Hampshire rooms and meals tax) and are asked to allocate at least 10 percent of their ingredient budget to New Hampshire farms and food processors. These nutritionally balanced meals are intended for anyone experiencing food insecurity or whose food insecurity has been impacted by the pandemic. The program is currently slated to run for 10 weeks. Partners hope this pilot will inspire enthusiasm for a larger-scale adoption of this model in New Hampshire.

“The Claremont Soup Kitchen is truly blessed to be chosen to participate in Everyone Eats,” said Cindy Stevens, the kitchen’s executive director. “This program is one more example of how amazing our community is and their willingness to look out for their neighbor. It is heartwarming to know that not only can we provide for those needing food assistance but also those who are struggling to keep their staff working.”

The Claremont program is modeled on Vermont Everyone Eats, for which Upper Valley Everyone Eats (UVEE) is the Upper Valley hub, administered by Vital Communities. Begun in August 2020 and slated to continue through June 2021, Vermont Everyone Eats is funded by the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development and made possible through a grant provided by the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development to Southeastern Vermont Community Action (SEVCA). UVEE is a partnership of Vital Communities, LISTEN, the Upper Valley Haven, Willing Hands, and numerous Upper Valley restaurants and social service providers.

The Claremont program is also inspired by other programs around New Hampshire that connect restaurants to people facing food insecurity due to COVID, such as Community Kitchen of Keene, Community Meals to Go in Portsmouth, and the Monadnock Restaurant Project.

“This model, this pandemic response, has cropped up around the state, around New England, and the country because it’s so efficient and impactful,” said Lauren Griswold, Vital Communities’ coordinator of UVEE and the Claremont program. “With one source of funding it supports an economic sector and boosts community food security.”

As of March 14, UVEE had accomplished the following:

  • Meals served: 70,000
  • Individuals served: 68,300
  • Seniors served: 15,000
  • Revenue for restaurants: $700,000
  • Revenue for farms and food businesses: $46,500

For information about UVEE and Claremont Everyone Eats, check out the UVEE web page or email uvee@vitalcommunities.org.

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.”  

### 

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 

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.

Community Conversations: Resilience Through Local Food Security

A community conversation about increasing resilience through local food production and working lands

Join Vital Communities, Land for Good, and other partners to talk about the working lands that feed and sustain our community in a series of three virtual forums in New Hampshire titled “Community Resilience through Local Food Security.” Each forum focuses on a different region within New Hampshire and involves specific to that region.

The pandemic has highlighted the critical importance of local farms and working lands. Hear from neighbor farmers about their land challenges and successes and learn about land access tools from Land for Good.

Connect with your neighbors and farmers as we break in smaller groups to talk about the nut and bolts of increasing productive farmland in the region, how to increase resilience through local food security, and how farms are adapting to climate change.

October 20, 6:30-8 pm: Lebanon/Mascoma Valley

Join the Hanover Co-op Food Stores and local farmers.

Register here

 

October 27, 6:30-8 pm: Kearsarge Region

Join the Kearsarge Food Hub, Spring Ledge Farm, and others.

Register here

 

November 2, 6:30-8 pm: Claremont/Newport area

Join Beaver Pond Farm, the Upper Valley Land Trust, and others.

Register here.

Upper Valley Everyone Eats

We are launching Upper Valley Everyone Eats! Between September 8 and December 18, approximately 2,500 meals from local restaurants will be available weekly across the Upper Valley’s Vermont community meal programs and food pantries. These nutritionally balanced meals, made in part with ingredients from local farms and food businesses, are being  offered through a new Vermont state program which pays hard-hit Vermont restaurants $10 per meal to create nutritious meals for Vermont residents in need of food assistance at this difficult time. Get the details!

2CLA Graduate Spotlight: Digging in on the Climate Crisis

The Climate Change Leadership Academy Class (2CLA) of 2020 graduated in May amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. We would like to highlight the inspiring climate leaders who attended the leadership academy meetings. In addition, we want to share the projects that leaders designed and plan to launch in order to take meaningful action on climate change mitigation and adaptation in the Upper Valley.

The first 2CLA graduate in the spotlight is Cecily Anderson. During her 2CLA experience, Cecily appreciated the smart and articulate facilitators who presented at the meetings. Cecily, who is an illustrator and artist, is passionate about sustainable agriculture and aware of the potential for farming practices to mitigate climate change. She decided to pursue an art-centered, self-driven project she calls The Climate Farmer Project, to celebrate farmers who are leading the way in land-based climate change techniques in the Upper Valley. The main goals of the Climate Farmer Project are to support farmers who are fighting climate change; help local consumers understand the connection between local food choices and climate; and encourage people to implement practices themselves.

Cecily sees value in promoting farmers who are investing in practices such as improving soil fertility and water retention, rotational grazing, cutting farm emissions, and sequestering carbon. In the Upper Valley, many farmers are using their land to draw down carbon. Cecily has a handful of farmers in mind and wants to highlight a diversity of growers from across the board. Her plan is to interview farmers and create portraits that include a description of their farms and how they are working to combat the climate crisis. These portraits would be displayed in public spaces like schools, libraries, co-ops, and farmers markets.

Another goal of the project is to emphasize the growing value that climate-conscious food has for consumers. This may incentivize food retailers to create a system in which farmers are rewarded, through the marketplace, for their climate mitigation and adaptation techniques.

One aspect of The Climate Farmer Project that aligns well with 2CLA’s mission is to inspire home growers and farmers to adopt practices that combat climate change, however big or small. As climate leaders, it is important to call attention to how our food choices support climate action and educate others on how they can take action through land management.

Giving recognition to farmers who are installing mitigation and adaptation practices in the local Upper Valley foodshed is valuable work. COVID-19 threw a wrench in the works, prompting Cecily to pause her project. Moving forward, Cecily hopes to find a funding source and set aside time to launch the thoughtful project she designed.

1 2