Westminster, VT, July 14, 2021 – Vermont Everyone Eats (VEE), the innovative COVID-19 response program that provides meal assistance to Vermonters in need while supporting local restaurants, farmers, and food producers, has received an extension to continue programming. Program managers had previously anticipated that the program would end on June 30, but the State has extended the program contract recognizing that many Vermonters continue to face exacerbated food insecurity due to the COVID-19 economic crisis. The program is now expected to continue through September, contingent on the need and available funding.
This includes Upper Valley Everyone Eats, the VEE hub serving the Upper Valley, that is coordinated by Vital Communities.
Even as Vermont celebrates its high vaccination rate and the lifting of state pandemic restrictions, residents and local businesses continue to face pandemic-related crises. Many Vermonters are navigating the confusing maze of shifting conditions and resources like the ending of the eviction moratorium, changing housing assistance, reduced unemployment benefits, SNAP eligibility, and school meals programs. To help families, restaurants, and farmers continue to cope with the lingering impacts of COVID-19, Everyone Eats has been extended to keep providing its meals to everyone experiencing food insecurity and income for struggling restaurants and farmers due to still-turbulent economic conditions.
Steve Geller, Executive Director of SEVCA, VEE’s administering agency, spoke for everyone who made the program possible, when he said, “SEVCA, the VEE staff, the statewide Task Force, and the regional “community hubs” that have delivered the meals, are all relieved and delighted that we now have 3 more months to provide this incredible benefit to so many Vermonters. Despite the positive news about the reduced COVID risk and our growing economy, the negative effects of this crisis are still impacting many individuals and businesses in our state, and this will give them the additional resources and time they need to recover.”
The program is anticipated to ramp down, with the volume of meals decreasing over the next few months as, hopefully, community food security stabilizes. Meals are still available in all 14 Vermont counties through a variety of distribution channels. For more information about the program or how to receive a meal, please visit www.vteveryoneeats.org.
Vermont Everyone Eats is an innovative program that 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. The program was inspired by grassroots initiatives from communities across Vermont that collaboratively advocated for statewide funding to mitigate the high levels of food insecurity and food industry instability exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis. In July 2020, Vermont lawmakers allocated funds from the Coronavirus Relief Fund to launch Vermont Everyone Eats and the program was subsequently extended with funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Vermont Everyone Eats is operated through a network of community hubs located throughout Vermont. Southeastern Vermont Community Action (SEVCA) coordinates the program through a contract with the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development (ACCD).