The Food and Farm Initiative of the Vermont Community Foundation Awards $280,000 In Grants to Connect More Vermonters with Healthy, Local Food
Middlebury, VT—The Food and Farm Initiative of the Vermont Community Foundation has awarded eight grants totaling $280,000 to help more Vermont kids and families access the benefits of healthy, local food. The Foundation launched the Food and Farm Initiative in 2012, seeing an opportunity—and a need—to connect the state’s burgeoning local food movement with the fight against hunger. Since then, with the support of over 60 donors, the initiative has awarded more than $1 million in grants to create lasting links between organizations working on food security and local food.
“Ensuring that all Vermonters benefit from our local food system requires merging our passion for local foods with our compassion for those at risk of hunger,” says Janet McLaughlin, special projects director at the Community Foundation. “While there are no easy answers, one of the best things we can do is build strong programs and lasting partnerships that connect more Vermonters with local foods while supporting our farmers. And that’s ultimately what all of these grants are meant to do.”
The initiative so far has focused on grants for farm-to-school programs because schools reach nearly all Vermont children, including the nearly 20% facing food insecurity.
This latest round of awards included a two-year, $80,000 grant to the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund to support coordination of the Vermont Farm to Plate Network, the state’s initiative to increase economic development and jobs in the farm and food sector and improve Vermonters’ access to healthy, local food.
The Food and Farm Initiative also awarded $100,000 to Hunger Free Vermont to support their work to expand school meal participation and advocate for universal school meals in every Vermont school. Previous funding from the initiative has supported Hunger Free to work more closely than ever with farm-to-school organizations around the state to encourage participation in high-quality school meal programs. And in 2013, Hunger Free successfully championed a state law that made free lunch available to more than 6,000 additional Vermont students.
In addition, six $10-25,000 grants for continued funding were awarded to the Center for an Agricultural Economy, Food Connects, Green Mountain Farm-to-School, the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont, Vermont FEED (a partnership of Shelburne Farms and NOFA-VT), and Vital Communities to support their projects that are connecting schools, kids, families, and farmers.
To learn more about the Food and Farm Initiative, visit www.vermontcf.org/localfood.
2014 FOOD AND FARM INITIATIVE GRANTS
The Center for an Agricultural Economy received $25,000 to continue their project to develop a sustainable system to get more lightly-processed Vermont vegetables into Vermont schools.
Food Connects received $15,000 to continue local food buying club programs in Brattleboro, Newport, and Rutland.
Green Mountain Farm-to-School received $20,000 to continue building the statewide Vermont Harvest of the Month program.
Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT) received $10,000 to continue their work to help school food service directors purchase more local and regional food through the school system.
Vermont FEED (Food Education Every Day), a partnership of Shelburne Farms and NOFA-VT, received $20,000 to execute the farm to school systems map and strategic plan developed last year.
Vital Communities received $10,000 to continue developing tools to assess farm-to-school organizations and programs.
Hunger Free Vermont received $100,000 to support school districts and farm-to-school nonprofits to improve participation in school meals over the next two years.
Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund received $80,000 to support the coordination of the Farm to Plate Network as it executes the state’s Farm to Plate Plan over the next two years.