Everyone Eats is ending, but hunger in the Upper Valley continues. Here are ways you can find help and support the programs that offer it.
On March 31, Upper Valley Everyone Eats (UVEE) will come to a close after three years of providing restaurant quality meals to food access programs across the Upper Valley. This is a regional hub of a statewide program – Vermont Everyone Eats – that was designed to address the crisis of food insecurity during the height of the COVID 19 pandemic, but it has proven its necessity far beyond pandemic relief. Throughout these three years, UVEE has worked with 11 restaurants to prepare meals and with over 30 meal sites to distribute those meals. Thanks to the incredible efforts of our local restaurant partners, food access champions, and countless volunteers wanting to help their communities, the program has been able to distribute over 200,000 meals just in the Upper Valley alone.
With a number like that, it’s clear that the program is addressing a still present need – that of feeding our community. Unfortunately, the end of the program also coincides with the end to other pandemic relief efforts such as the Emergency Allotments, which have provided additional financial support to SNAP recipients in both New Hampshire and Vermont. Those allotments will both have come to a close by the end of March, and according to New Hampshire Hunger Solutions, the average NH SNAP household stands to lose $206 of Emergency Allotment support per month.
Food assistance is available from a number of channels. See the column “Food Access Resources” for a list.
Many communities have local food shelves, and you can visit the Vermont Food Bank and New Hampshire Food Bank both have maps on their websites to help you find the best option for where you live or work. Furthermore, organizations like Hunger Free Vermont have helpful directories to assist anyone in navigating options for accessing food assistance.
In addition, people can obtain locally grown food at a discount through Farm Share programs offered by the New Hampshire and Vermont chapters of the Northeast Organic Farming Association.
“[The] Farm Share Program connects individuals, families and seniors with limited income to certified organic NOFA-NH member farms. This program provides financial assistance in the purchase of CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) shares consisting of a season’s worth of local, fresh farm products – 11 to 25 weeks of certified organic vegetables, fruits, and more. The Farm Share Program is available to New Hampshire residents that meet the income eligibility guidelines below.” You can learn more about the Farm Share program and submit an application here.
Vermont residents are also able to engage with the Farm Share program through NOFA-VT’s program, which you can learn more about by following this link.
You can also promote broader change to affirm good food as a right for all people. Organizations in both states are working to identify and address different angles of the food insecurity crisis. You can visit Hunger Free VT and NH Hunger Solutions and join their mailing lists to learn more about local advocacy efforts, including support for a permanent universal school meals program in Vermont, the implementation of a WIC Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program in New Hampshire, Medicaid Direct Certification that would automatically enroll children into school meals programs if they are already receiving Medicaid, and other possible state-level decisions that legislators can take to use federal resources to ease the hunger cliff.
Food Advocates in Our Upper Valley Community
Looking at the hunger crisis from a 30,000-foot view can be overwhelming and paralyzing. Support for food security is a clear need in communities across both New Hampshire and Vermont.
But while the crisis is urgent, folks are doing incredible work on a local level to address it. We want to take a moment to recognize some of the partners that we have worked with through the Upper Valley Everyone Eats program who are doing much needed work in their communities to connect folks to food. The Upper Valley Haven and LISTEN Community Services have been community resources for years, and incredible partners for UVEE. Click their names to learn more about their work, how to access their resources, or support their work through donations or volunteering. The Sharing and Caring Food Pantry at the White River Junction Methodist Church has served a tremendous number of meals through their self-serve food shelf. Willing Hands of Norwich, in addition to their robust food access programming, has been essential in helping UVEE meals get distributed along their routes throughout the region. We’re beyond grateful to all the local, community volunteer coordinated food shelves we have worked with, including the Thetford Food Shelf, West Fairlee Food Shelf, Woodstock Food Shelf, Bethel Food Shelf, Randolph Area Food Shelf, Windsor Food Shelf, and the Sharon Food Shelf.
In addition, other community programs have stepped up to address this crisis, including the Bradford Public Library, and the Bradford Teen Center. Medical clinics and other food access volunteer programs, like the Clara Martin Center, Gifford Medical Center, Meals on Wheels, and Veggie Van Go, have been essential in distributing meals. And finally, we are so grateful for all of the wonderful local school partners that we worked with across Hartland, Quechee, Hartford, White River Junction, Wilder, Tunbridge, Thetford, Sharon, Fairlee, and Waits River.
Numerous volunteers have donated their time and care to keep UVEE running, doing things like packaging meals, making pickups and deliveries, and helping to hand out meals at meal sites. Community programs like this wouldn’t be able to happen without folks from the community stepping up, and we are so thankful to all of you that have given any of your time to the program over the past three years.
Finally, we would like to extend our gratitude to all of the local restaurants that worked to provide those 200,000 meals over the past several years: Global Village Foods, Lake Morey Resort, Maple Street Catering, Moon and Stars, Piecemeal Pies, Simon Pearce, Tacocat, The Little Grille, The Newbury Village Store & Thistle Café, Waits River Country Store & Deli, and the Windsor Diner. They crafted nutritionally balanced, restaurant quality meals every week made with locally grown and produced ingredients. All of these restaurants were there when the community needed them, and we encourage you to support them in return!
Our local community has proven over the past several years that we can do amazing things by working together. This program has shown us that when we connect the dots in our region, we can uplift everyone. Join us in continuing to find ways to connect to one another, share our resources, and nurture our communities on a local level as we work toward food access for all.
Food Access Resources
- 3SquaresVT – Boost your grocery budget to shop at your local grocery store, convenience store, farmers market, or online. Click here to learn more. For application assistance call 1-855-855-6181, or text VFBSNAP to 855-11.
- WIC - Healthy food and support for you if you are pregnant or a parent or caregiver for a child under the age of 5. Call 2-1-1 or text VTWIC to 855-11.
- CSFP – The Commodity Supplemental Food Program is a federal nutrition program which offers free monthly boxes of staple foods to income-eligible adults over the age of 60. Learn more and apply here.
- Farmer to Family Food Box Program – The Vermont Foodbank and partners are continuing to offer food boxes. Check the site to register and find updated information.
- Find a food shelf – The Vermont Foodbank partners with 215 food shelves, meal sites, senior centers, homeless shelters and out of school programs across the state. Find a site near you.
- If you are age 60 or older, call the helpline 1-800-642-5119 to reach your local Area Agency on Aging for personal assistance with 3SquaresVT, getting meals delivered to you at home, and more.
- Call 2-1-1 or visit the USDA Meal Finder to find their nearest location for meals for children 18 and under.
- NOFA-VT’s Community Food Access page offers multiple ways can Vermonters can access local food on a budget
NH Food Bank has a list of many different ways to access food, as well as information on receiving support in finding food or applying for different programs
- NOFA-NH Farm Share Program https://www.nofanh.org/farm-share-program
- WIC https://www.dhhs.nh.gov/programs-services/population-health/women-infants-children-nutrition-program
- CSFP – The Commodity Supplemental Food Program is a federal nutrition program that offers free monthly boxes of staple foods to income-eligible adults over the age of 60. Learn more and apply here.
- NH SNAP https://nheasy.nh.gov/#/services/Food%20Assistance
- UNH Extension has developed an interactive map of food access across New Hampshire that includes information on local discount programs, pantry and meal sites, and nutrition assistance programs and centers. It also has multiple categories for folks to search, including food pick up sites, food delivery services, and personal item (I.e. hygiene items) pick up sites. https://unhcoopext.maps.arcgis.com/apps/MapSeries/index.html?appid=5caa235e0e024beb8bebba50a0297d15#
- The Summer Food Service program from the NH Food Bank provides free summer meals to all children, no registration necessary https://nhfoodbank.org/what-we-do/summer-food-service-program/
- Cooking Matters: The New Hampshire branch of a federal program, this class helps adults to learn about how to access nutritious food and prepare meals for themselves and their families on a budget, while supporting them with groceries through the program. https://nhfoodbank.org/what-we-do/cooking-matters-nh/
- Gather is not within the Upper Valley, but they are a resource for anyone living in New Hampshire that would like additional food support and has the ability to access the seacoast region of the state. They have a pantry market, as well as a mobile market that operates in southeastern New Hampshire. Learn more about their programs and offerings here.
- Visit the DHHS website here to learn more about the food support programs available through the Older Americans Act, including congregate meals and home delivered meal services.
- Call 2-1-1 or visit the USDA Meal Finder to find the nearest location for meals for children 18 and under.