Janet S. Munt Family Room: Nourishing Families

Grant Amount: $5,000

The Janet S. Munt Family Room Family was founded in 1988 as a program of the Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) and in 2017, in the midst of looming staff cuts, current and former Family Room families engaged in an extensive strategic planning process and successful fundraising effort, and the Janet S. Munt Family Room became its own independent nonprofit that retained most staff and minimized the disruption to families. In the last two years we have built a dedicated board, hired a full-time executive director, and retained six program staff members, a Parent Advisory Group, and a team of volunteers. We remain one of fifteen designated Parent Child Centers in the state. Our mission is to support connection for parents and families, provide education, promote physical, social, emotional, and linguistic development in children, and nurture a vibrant and diverse community, and we accomplish this with drop-in and enrolled programming, case management, and home visiting - all of which is free to participants.

We are seeking funding for our “Nourishing Families” project that would extend our food programming in three ways: harvest, preservation, and distribution. The harvesting and preservation take place at our garden. From June - September, our Family Play program that takes place at our 20 Allen Street location for the school year moves to our community garden at Ethan Allen Homestead. While there, in addition to the parenting education and developmentally appropriate play Family Play offers year-round, families learn to grow their own food, and with this funding we would expand to include workshops by the VT Community Garden Network on harvesting and preserving produce grown through canning, fermentation, and other traditional methods.  Distribution takes place at the Family Room. While we currently offer snacks and meals with all programming, with this funding we would purchase a refrigerator with a clear glass door where perishable produce from the gardens, as well as food that has been donated and meals prepared by the Family Room staff and volunteers, can be easily perused while safely kept at appropriate temperatures and placed in a central location for families to take home year-round.

The goal of Nourishing Families is simple: to get more local nutritious food into the hands and homes of our Family Room families. We already incorporate food as much as possible into our programs through family style meals and served over 10,000 lbs of produce during the 2017-2018 school year, but we recognize that we are only meeting a small portion of the need many of our families experience and hope to grow our resources.