The Vermont food relief program call Everyone Eats! helps supplement meals for residents experiencing food insecurity while also supporting local restaurants and farmers. The program, being touted as a model for other states, pays restaurants to prepare meals for those in need, and stipulates that 10% of the food be sourced from local farms.
Food insecurity in Vermont has increased by 46% due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Rural areas in particular have been hit hard and face a number of challenges addressing the issue including transportation barriers, food deserts and stigma associated with accessing food benefits. Sponsors feel the program model, which helps restaurants and farmers, makes it easier for residents to accept the meals at no charge. In addition to serving residents directly, local nonprofits, food shelves and mutual aid organizations can pick up meals in bulk for their clients.
Since launching in August, organizers have distributed almost 12,000 meals to residents in Brattleboro alone, the first municipality to launch the program. A recent announcement on states it is being expanded statewide due to its success.