This is a guest blog post from Hunger Free Vermont.
Vermont is well known for being a localvore heaven, especially this time of year when co-ops, farmers markets, and gardens are bursting at the seams with fresh, local, and incredibly delicious food. However, many people aren’t aware that for thousands of Vermonters, just getting enough food for themselves and their families is a daily struggle. Currently in our state, 1 in 10 Vermonters are considered “food insecure”, which means that they lack consistent access to enough food. Even worse, 1 in 7 children live in food insecure households. That’s why our mission at Hunger Free Vermont is to end the injustice of hunger and malnutrition for all Vermonters. It’s a big task, but we aren’t alone in our fight.
Fortunately, there is a robust network of federal, state, and local nutrition programs supported by passionate community organizations committed to helping Vermonters get the nutrition they need to stay healthy and thriving. One of the largest and most effective programs available for food-insecure Vermonters is called 3SquaresVT, known nationally as SNAP. It’s a federal program that provides low-income Vermonters with a monthly benefit they can use to purchase food at participating grocery stores, co-ops, and farmers markets – currently, over 70,000 Vermonters rely on 3SquaresVT to help them put three square meals a day on their table. 3SquaresVT is a program that is proven to work – it decreases hunger and provides the support needed for children to learn, adults to focus on finding employment, and for people to stay healthy as they age. If you think you or someone you know might be eligible, dial 2-1-1 or visit www.vermontfoodhelp.com for more information.
Currently, Hunger Free Vermont is working to protect 3SquaresVT benefits from federal threats. The Farm Bill is up for reauthorization in Congress; it’s a large, five-year bill that authorizes funding for a number of nutrition programs, including 3SquaresVT. While the Senate’s version of the Farm Bill protects nutrition programs, the House has passed a very different bill that, if enacted, will cut thousands of families off from receiving 3SquaresVT benefits, and reduce benefit amounts for many more. Congress is currently on summer recess, but when they reconvene in September, the House and Senate will be tasked with reconciling these two bills into a final Farm Bill that will determine the next five years of 3SquaresVT and other critical nutrition programs. That’s why we’ve been working in tandem with our federal delegation and key partners to fight for the nutrition needs of Vermonters. The Vermont Farm Bill Nutrition Coalition has come up with a set of recommendations for a Farm Bill that protects nutrition programs, and we need your help to show that Vermonters stand strong for our communities. Please consider taking a look at our recommendations and signing on today at www.hungerfreevt.org/farmbill2018!
3SquaresVT is connected to many other programs that help Vermonters afford food, including City Market’s innovative Food for All program. This program offers a 10% discount and other benefits like free classes to customers participating in 3SquaresVT and other assistance programs. City Market is committed to ensuring the Co-op is accessible to everyone, regardless of income. It’s a real testament to City Market’s dedication to improving the Burlington community. Cutting 3SquaresVT in the Farm Bill would also hurt access to important local programs like Food for All. We know the difference that 3SquaresVT makes in Vermont – for participants, for producers, for communities, and for our state’s economy – and it will take all of us to fight to protect it. Visit www.hungerfreevt.org/farmbill2018 to get involved.