Community Health Centers of Burlington: Winter Warming Shelter Community Meals

Community Health Centers of Burlington

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.