By Aaron Retherford
With the decrease in donors during the holiday season, the Vermont Foodbank has been thinking beyond its normal realm of raising money. In a first partnership of its kind, Vermont Foodbank teamed up with foodtweeks, a free mobile app for iPhones and Android devices.
“The food bank right now is experiencing some lower than expected fundraising. We’re looking at all angles in which we can drum up support and talk to people about the work we’re doing,” Judy Stermer, Director of Communications and Public Affairs for the Vermont Foodbank said. “We’re serving 1 in 4 Vermonters, 153,000 people every year are visiting our food shelves and meal sites, so we have to get really creative about engaging our community.”
Foodtweeks reached out to numerous foodbanks across the country, including Vermont Foodbank last year, in order to help promote its app, which allows users to discover ways to trim calories from everyday foods. In turn, foodtweeks provided Vermont Foodbank with a financial donation up front.
Foodtweeks offers users simple “tweeks” that remove a handful of calories from the food they want to eat. Every time a user chooses a “tweek” that cuts the total calories from the meal, a donation is made to a local food bank, so it can distribute the same number of nutritious calories to a hungry family. The app keeps track of meals, calories donated, tweeks, and calories removed, so users will feel doubly good while eating better.
“I think this is a great project for folks who are using their smartphones, who are thinking about what they’re eating and want to make changes to their diet,” Stermer said. “It’s a great way for them to get involved in the issue of hunger without giving cash themselves. They’ve got some great corporate sponsors on board who are doing that for people using foodtweeks. It’s sort of a win-win.”
While this will be a beneficial partnership, Stermer said the Vermont Foodbank will continue looking for new partnerships.
On Feb. 17, the Wayside Restaurant & Bakery on the Barre-Montpelier Road, is offering a free short stack of pancakes from 4-9:30 p.m. Donations for the Vermont Foodbank will be accepted all evening. Earlier in the week, Mud Studio in Middlesex will host the Central Vermont Empty Bowl Benefit on Feb. 15 from 4:30-7 p.m. The Vermont Foodbank will also be working with Magic Hat Brewery and benefiting from the Mardi Gras celebration at the end of the month.
“We have some really ambitious goals this year of distributing two million pounds of produce and serving more people than ever before,” Stermer said. “We can’t do that without community support.”