Vermont: Everyone Eats Program, 1 Million Meals Served

$10 million generated for local restaurants to help feed Vermonters in crisis

Montpelier, VT (STL.News) Governor Phil Scott announced Vermont Everyone Eats, an innovative COVID-19 response program, is marking one million restaurant meals served to Vermonters experiencing food insecurity.

The program was launched in August 2020 to leverage Vermont’s independent restaurants and robust local food system to help feed families and Vermonters in need.  Over 200 Vermont restaurants have contributed to the one million meals, which have contained nearly $1 million of Vermont-produced ingredients.

“It’s been a tough year for everyone, but there have been many bright spots as Vermonters have come together to help their neighbors and strengthen their communities.  The milestone we’re celebrating today is one of those examples,” said Governor Scott.  “This program shows the incredible success of Vermont Everyone Eats – a program that brought together many across state agencies, private businesses and public offices, and across the areas of food security, economic development and agriculture.  I want to thank all involved, including the cooks and restaurants workers who helped put meals on the table through these dark months.  We look forward to ongoing partnerships as we work to move Vermont forward.”

The program has been led by a series of cross-sector, public-private partnerships, including 14 community “hubs” 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.  It launched with $5 million from the state’s Coronavirus Relief Fund and has continued with additional funding through FEMA.  The program, which is carried out through a contract between the Agency of Commerce and Community Development and Southeastern Vermont Community Action Agency (SEVCA), has been extended through Vermont’s State of Emergency.

Reflecting on the central role SEVCA has played in administering the program, Steve Geller, its executive director, said, “What a privilege it’s been to participate in Vermont Everyone Eats and contribute to its success.  For almost 56 years, SEVCA has provided critical assistance to Vermonters in need based on the belief that people can be empowered to rise out of poverty and that the strength of our communities is measured by the quality of life of everyone in them.  In its unique multi-faceted approach, Vermont Everyone Eats has captured our collective imagination by helping individuals, restaurants, farmers, and local economies, while building new and deeper community connections.  Our communities are stronger now because of this program.”

Jean Hamilton, Vermont Everyone Eats statewide coordinator sees this moment to celebrate the collective action of the program:  “It is the people behind VEE that we are really celebrating .  Who is your Everyone Eats hero? Please join us in celebrating them .”