Community Health Centers of Burlington: Winter Warming Shelter Community Meals

Community Health Centers of Burlington

2020 Update:

In 2018, the Community Health Centers of Burlington was fortunate to receive $1,500 to supplement the provision of nightly meals at our Low-Barrier Shelter for individuals experiencing homelessness. We are pleased to report that the funding allowed us to provide 164 community dinners throughout the winter and into the warmer season.

As the only Low-Barrier shelter in Chittenden County, these meals were crucial to those in our community experiencing homelessness. It was unrealistic to solely rely on donations and volunteers to supplement these needs, especially as the weather became warmer. With the City Market Seedling Grant, we were able to fill the gaps that were created due to this donor fatigue.

In the fall of 2019, after a great deal of consideration, CHCB found itself in the position of no longer being able to operate the Low-Barrier Shelter. The three seasons of operation had been incredibly eye opening and enabled us to understand what an undertaking this was, particularly as a stand-alone program unlike any other under our umbrella of Homeless Healthcare Programs. We were very proud of our work at the shelter, but fully acknowledged the impact the shelter had on the other aspects of our healthcare model and we never wanted to sacrifice our core mission of patient healthcare. We knew and understood the value of this service to the community and worked quickly and diligently to find a new organization to take on this project, aptly named ANEW Place! We were thrilled this partner stepped up; not only did it make sense from an experience standpoint with the fact that they already existed as shelter operators, but their philosophy of treating all community residents with dignity and respect aligns with CHCB’s. And of course, our Safe Harbor Health Center is right across the street from the shelter and we remain the primary care provider for all who need us.

Thank you again to City Market with not only helping supplement these meals, but for allowing us to focus on the nutritional integrity of the food we served. As healthcare providers, we know that food heals. We appreciate your compassion and your generosity towards our most vulnerable neighbors.

Grant Amount $1,500

Since 1971, the Community Health Centers of Burlington (CHCB) have provided health care to people of all ages, backgrounds, and life circumstances. Under their umbrella of comprehensive services, community residents can access primary and preventive health care, dental services, psychiatry, and mental health and substance abuse treatment provided in a compassionate, respectful, and professional manner. As Chittenden County’s sole Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), their mission is to improve the health of all within the communities they serve. They are dedicated to providing exceptional care with a commitment to serving people regardless of financial status or life circumstance.

The Community Health Centers of Burlington will use Seedling Grant funds to supplement the provision of nightly meals at their Winter Warming Shelter. CHCB runs the only low-barrier Winter Warming Shelter in the state, where homeless community members seek shelter and safety during harsh Vermont winters without substance screening, maintaining CHCB’s focus on treatment and access. The Winter Warming Shelter provides nightly Community Meals to guests. As one of only two meal options for homeless individuals in the area, and the only one offered seven days a week, these Community Meals are a crucial aspect of their care.

Over the course of the Winter Warming Shelter’s 2017-18 season (November 1-April 15), they served 166 Community Dinners, in addition to a few Sunday morning breakfasts provided by CHCB nursing staff volunteers. The Winter Warming Shelter operational costs are covered by a State of Vermont grant from the Department of Children and Families, which does not include funding for the Community Meals. Local volunteers provided 134 meal donations of the total 166 nights this season, cooking for the 37-44 nightly guests at our shelter. To make up for the remaining 32 meals, they accrued $1,438.14 in monetary donations to buy and prepare those foods. These donations are not consistent however, and CHCB cannot count on them on a yearly basis. Many of those donations came from CHCB staff members, and $1,438.14 averages out to under $45 for each Community Meal feeding 37-44 individuals. Feeding that many individuals for just over $1 each does not ensure that meals are adequately portioned or nutritious.

The Winter Warming Shelter was just awarded funds from the City of Burlington to operate for an additional two months, until June 15th, in the 2018-19 season. Funds from the Seedling Grant program would ensure the longevity of the season, the consistency of meals, sufficient portions, nutrition planning, and ensure that staff members are not spending their paychecks on the job. Grant money received in March of 2019 would supplement dwindling donations as the prospect of spring lessens the perceived needs of homeless community members still enduring frigid temperatures or other weather conditions. Any remaining Seedling Grant funds would be budgeted out into supplemental meals for the following 2019-2020 winter season, accounting for number of guests and varying nutritional options.