Hannaford Supermarkets announced a $188,000 donation to the Vermont Foodbank, which will allow the non-profit organization to more than double the reach of its VeggieVanGo program and deliver fresh, healthy food directly to students and families who may not be able to visit a traditional meal site or food shelf at a total of 13 schools throughout Vermont.
The VeggieVanGo program is a mobile unit which delivers fresh fruits, vegetables and other healthy food directly to students and families at school distribution sites. As a result of the donation from Hannaford, the VeggieVanGo program will expand to four new schools in 2020: Academy School in Brattleboro; Spaulding High School in Barre; Washington Village School in Washington; and Woodstock High School in Woodstock.
Additionally, the donation will allow the Vermont Foodbank to introduce a new food distribution model entitled VeggieVanGo+, which will stock the mobile unit with shelf-stable food in addition to fresh produce for distribution during its regular school visits.
Any remaining shelf-stable food will be safely stored at the participating school, creating a pantry which students and their families can access on a routine basis. In 2020, the mobile school pantry will be available at three schools in Vermont: Rutland Intermediate School in Rutland; Spaulding High School in Barre; and St. Johnsbury School in St. Johnsbury.
The donation to the Vermont Foodbank is one component of an overall $1 million commitment from Hannaford Supermarkets through its new “Fuel Kids at School” program, which is designed to directly address food insecurity and improve access to fresh and healthy food in schools in New York and New England.
“At Hannaford, we strongly believe that our business goes far beyond selling products and that a key component of being ‘greater than groceries’ is investing into the communities we serve. As a community contributor, we have a longstanding commitment to aiding hunger relief in our neighborhoods. This effort often begins at school, where hunger directly impacts a student’s ability to learn, grow and succeed,” said Hannaford Supermarkets Vermont Director of Operations Samara Bushey. “All of us at Hannaford are honored to support the Vermont Foodbank’s efforts through this donation as we reaffirm our commitment to nourishing our communities, one child at a time.”
“In Vermont, 15.9 percent of children are food insecure,” said Vermont Foodbank CEO John Sayles. “And we know that lack of healthy food during childhood is linked to health problems, developmental challenges, social and behavioral problems, and difficulties in school. But thanks to the incredible generosity of Hannaford Supermarkets, more Vermont children will have the nourishment they need to grow up strong and succeed in the classroom. This is a game changer for Vermont’s next generation.”
The announcement took place today at Winooski School District in Winooski, VT, which is one of the beneficiaries of the VeggieVanGo program. Students and families in need within the school district visit the VeggieVanGo truck twice monthly to hand-select their own produce.
In addition to produce distribution, the VeggieVanGo program offers cooking demonstrations, vegetable samplings, recipes and cooking tips. The Vermont Foodbank SNAP outreach team is also at each event to provide participants with information about food assistance programs and application support.
“VeggieVanGo days at our school are very exciting for our students. They look forward to choosing food to bring home and enjoy eating with their families. Many of our students don’t get to eat fresh produce regularly or are new to the U.S., so some of the food available is not familiar to them. Having the taste testing station gives students and families a chance to try something new, and get recipes that they can make at home. Teachers and staff are happy to know their students are receiving fresh fruits and vegetables to nourish their growing bodies and minds,” said Winooski School District Wellness Coordinator Jaycie Puttlitz.
Schools currently participating in the VeggieVanGo program include: Barre City Elementary and Middle School in Barre; Brattleboro High School in Brattleboro; Molly Stark Elementary School in Bennington; Northwest Elementary School in Rutland; and St. Johnsbury School in St. Johnsbury.
Hannaford Supermarkets has a longstanding commitment to supporting hunger relief in its communities. In 2018, Hannaford donated nearly 26 million pounds of food throughout the Northeast, including 1.5 million pounds in Vermont; and raised $1.1 million in partnership with its shoppers to feed individuals in need through the annual Hannaford Helps Fight Hunger program. Earlier this month, Hannaford announced that it has donated more than $1 million to non-profits throughout New York and New England as a result of its reusable bag program, a portion of which is dedicated to hunger relief organizations and has funded more than 1.8 million meals to date.