A food assistance program that was started during the pandemic to help Vermont residents, restaurants and farmers has been extended through April 1, providing an additional three months of meals.
Vermont Everyone Eats was started in August 2020 in response to the state of emergency, the Rutland Herald reported last week.
The state was providing money to the program from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help people affected by the pandemic, said the program's statewide coordinator Jean Hamilton, of Southeastern Vermont Community Action. Money was available to extend it because of the prolonged "crisis period we're in because of COVID," she said.
The program has 11 hubs that collectively provide a food program in all of Vermont's 14 counties.
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Everyone Eats bought restaurant-made meals, many of them made using local produce, and supplied them to residents who self-identified as suffering from food insecurity because of the pandemic, the newspaper reported.
"The VEE program extension is welcome news here in Rutland County and will help families and individuals in need plan for the months ahead," said Stephen Abatiell, a member of the Everyone Eats program staff in Rutland County.
Extending the program through the winter may also help people who are facing limited budgets and inflationary prices and may have to make choices between necessities like heating oil and food, said Sue Minter, executive director of Capstone Community Action, which serves Washington, Orange and Lamoille counties. The central Vermont Everyone Eats hub has delivered 283,000 meals, she said.