Thanks to a $1.3 million allocation included by Vermont legislators in the final version of bill S.11, signed by Governor Scott on June 8, 2022, the groundbreaking Vermont Everyone Eats (VEE) program now has the necessary funding to continue to leverage FEMA support in providing COVID relief support for Vermont restaurants, farmers, and meal recipients. This includes Upper Valley Everyone Eats, the Upper Valley’s hub for this program. UVEE is administered by Vital Communities.
Everyone Eats is an innovative, multi-sector COVID relief program providing economic support to local restaurants, economic benefit to farmers, and restaurant-prepared meals for food-insecure Vermonters negatively impacted by COVID. All three pillars of the program — restaurants, farmers, and eaters — continue to benefit significantly from the relief this program provides.
“Kudos to the many supporters in the state legislature who worked tirelessly to make this allocation possible. …This is strong, sound policy in its ability to triply serve economic resilience in small businesses, the economic health of agriculture and food producers, and the hardest hit members of our community,” said Stephanie Bonin, Executive Director of the Downtown Brattleboro Alliance and Program Director for the Brattleboro Everyone Eats Hub.
In July 2020, the Vermont legislature enacted the Restaurants and Farmers Feeding the Hungry program “to provide assistance to Vermonters who are food insecure due to the COVID-19 public health emergency by engaging Vermont restaurants that have suffered economic harm due to [this] emergency to prepare meals using foodstuffs purchased from Vermont farms and food producers.” This initiative, known as Vermont Everyone Eats, has provided over 2.4 million meals since it began in August 2020. Of that total, UVEE itself has distributed 180,000 meals to 18,000 Vermonters experiencing food insecurity in the Upper Valley, representing 11,000 households and 6,000 seniors. At $10/meal, this meal volume translates to $1.8M in much-needed income for our ten participating local restaurants.
Participating restaurants are required to use a minimum of 10% local ingredients grown or produced in Vermont, with many far exceeding that minimum, for a program-wide average of 35% local ingredients. Over 260 restaurants and 300 farmers have benefited from the program, which currently distributes 30,000 meals/week through 11 community hubs.
Beginning July 1, 2022, FEMA’s COVID relief funding will shift from 100% federal funding to 90/10 federal cost-share. The new allocation of state funding provides the 10% non-federal match for Vermont Everyone Eats to continue for no more than one year, as long as there is both a federal pandemic emergency and a COVID-related need within the state.
The program has brought over $31M of federal revenue into the state to date.
For more information on the program, to find out how to access local meals, or request the inclusion of a restaurant in this program, visit the Vermont Everyone Eats website at https://vteveryoneeats.org/.
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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 (VEE) is funded through a contract provided by the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development (VT ACCD) to Southeastern Vermont Community Action (SEVCA) and is advised by a Statewide Task Force including perspectives from restaurant, economic development, and hunger relief advocates.