Imagine farm-fresh lunches for all kids at all Vermont schools – that’s the vision Hunger Free Vermont is working to make a reality, with help from City Market’s Rally for Change program. Anytime you check out at City Market, you can choose to round up your total to the nearest dollar to support Rally for Change. Each month, we support organizations working to strengthen our community. Throughout the month of November, 40% of City Market’s Rally for Change proceeds will benefit Hunger Free Vermont.
Hunger Free Vermont is a non-profit that is focused on eradicating hunger in Vermont. They provide critical support to many organizations’ food security projects, including our own Food For All program. Through Food For All, we extend 15% discounts on produce and bulk foods as well as a 10% store-wide discount to folks who participate in 3SquaresVT (SNAP benefits/EBT card), Federal Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), or Supplemental Security Income/Social Security Disability Income (SSI/SSDI). Food For All Members can also attend our cooking classes for free, along with other Membership benefits. Hunger Free Vermont works with co-ops across the Northeast to support food access programs like Food For All. They also provide technical assistance to help schools with their school meal programs, organize Hunger Councils in every county around the state, and work to increase awareness of SNAP benefits for folks at risk of hunger.
In addition to their outreach, Hunger Free Vermont promotes policies to promote greater in-school access to healthy food for Vermont’s kids. Right now, one of their biggest priorities is advocating for state legislation to make Universal School Meals - breakfast and lunch for every student at no charge to their families - permanent in Vermont.
Some history: At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, waivers from the USDA made federal funding available for Universal School Meals (USM) across the United States. That funding has meant that students in Vermont have had all school meals – breakfast and lunch – paid for. Before this program, only some schools in Vermont offered USM. Most schools only offered free school meals based on proven financial need. This leads to stigma against kids receiving aid, needless paperwork for parents and school administrators to file, and kids falling through the cracks and going hungry at school. In the last legislative session, Hunger Free Vermont’s advocacy helped secure a tri-partisan vote out of the Vermont State Senate for S.100, a bill which would have paved a path for Universal School Meals in Vermont. This worked has moved the conversation from whether to enact USM in Vermont to how the state can get it done.
Hunger Free Vermont’s advocacy is not limited to Universal School Meals. They have also helped to increase funding for farm to school programs across the state. Last year, Hunger Free Vermont worked with Vermont FEED and other local organizations to secure $500,000 for schools to increase their local food purchasing. This funding helps to ensure that school meals are made with nutritious, local, and fresh foods, while supporting our local farms.
Support Hunger Free Vermont in November by rounding up your change on City Market purchases. You can also learn more about Hunger Free Vermont at their website, reach out to Teddy at firstname.lastname@example.org to volunteer, or show your support for Universal School Meals by filling out a supporter card.