Launched the most ambitious advocacy effort in our history: a multi-year campaign to make Vermont the first state in the country to develop a sustainable means of allowing all PreK-12 schools in Vermont to serve universal school breakfast and lunch. We’ve begun the process of inspiring parents, educators, school boards, towns, and state government to invest in universal school meal programs for all Vermont students.
Provided customized assistance to 100 unique schools and 28 community groups resulting in 165,000 additional free healthy meals served during the 2018 - 2019 school year. Without Hunger Free Vermont’s direct engagement with these schools and groups, these previously unserved children would not be eating more of the nutritious food they need to thrive.
Strengthened the relationship between Vermont farms and schools by successfully encouraging the Vermont legislature to restore $50,000 to the Farm to School Grant Program that had earlier been cut from the state’s budget and increase state school meals funding by $75,000.
Helped schools and communities feed children when school is not in session. Vermont now ranks 2nd in the nation for reaching an average of 7,800 low income students per day last year with free meals last summer, and 3rd in the nation for reaching an average of 2,885 low income students per day last year with afterschool meals.
Expanded our Nutrition Education efforts to help more Vermont children and families develop lifelong healthy eating habits by developing a new online Resource Hub. This Hub makes all of our valuable nutrition education resources freely available for teachers, afterschool program staff, childcare providers, and community center staff to use to positively impact the lifelong health of all the children and families they serve.
Provided 24 free trainings to better equip 300 district service providers, social workers and counselors to help eligible Vermonters apply for 3SquaresVT benefits. In addition to these trainings, in October we will hold a statewide 3SquaresVT Policy & Outreach Conference where over 100 people will participate in workshops led by our experts and many of our partner organizations from around the state.
Advocated to protect 3SquaresVT and other federal supplemental nutrition programs, to keep them strong and accessible. These programs bring federal funding into the state and boost the local economy. Last year 3SquaresVT benefits brought over $105 million to Vermont, supporting local farmers and retailers.
Continued our concerted outreach to older Vermonters, helping them understand that accepting nutrition assistance has been proven to keep them healthier and more able to live independently. While less than a third of the older Vermonters eligible for benefits were accessing them in 2014, the efforts that Hunger Free Vermont and our partners have invested in reaching this vulnerable age group have resulted in increasing that percentage to 41% over the last four years.
Managed 10 regional Hunger Councils across the state bringing people together from every part of Vermont, from every sector of their communities, to learn more about the issues of hunger and poverty impacting their area and develop coordinated strategies to address them.