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The Food and Farm Initiative of the Vermont Community Foundation Awards More Than $500,000 in Grants to Connect More Vermonters with Healthy, Local Food

The Food and Farm Initiative of the Vermont Community Foundation has awarded 12 grants totaling more than $500,000 to continue its support of local and statewide efforts to help connect Vermont families of all incomes with local food. Since its launch in 2012, the initiative has awarded more than $1.6 million in grants to organizations striving to solve food insecurity in Vermont while strengthening the state’s local food system. The level of grantmaking in this most recent round was made possible thanks to the partnership of over 30 donors including 16 Foundation fundholders and the High Meadows Fund, which is a part of the Community Foundation.

“It’s wonderful to see these grantees working together in creative new ways that many didn’t think were possible at the start of the initiative,” says Janet McLaughlin, special projects director at the Community Foundation. “So far, our focus has been on bringing local food into Vermont schools; now we’re helping grantees target grocery stores and farm-to-workplace programs as ways to reach Vermonters who don’t yet buy much local food. We are also happy that we are now able to expand our support to Bennington and Franklin counties.”

The 12 projects in this most recent grant round join Hunger Free Vermont and the Vermont Farm to Plate Network in a group of Food and Farm Initiative grantees that will collaborate through 2016, building on the partnerships and programs funded during the first two and a half years of the initiative. Together, the grantees will focus on strengthening farm-to-school programs, increasing the amount of Vermont-grown food in wholesale markets, and encouraging more Vermonters to see Vermont’s food as their own.

“We want both Vermont families and Vermont farms to thrive, now and in years to come,” says McLaughlin. “Making sure that Vermonters can access food grown or raised in the state will help us reach that goal.”   

Among the 12 organizations receiving a grant is the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT), for a project to strengthen Farm to School programming year-round. NOFA-VT will help schools and summer meal providers incorporate more local foods and offer free summer meals over the weekend at two farmers’ markets in partnership with Hunger-Free Vermont.   

“Continued support from the Food and Farm Initiative provides NOFA-VT the opportunity to expand our work with schools into the summer months so that Vermont youth have access to fresh, local foods twelve months of the year,” says Enid Wonnacott, Executive Director of NOFA-VT. “This is a win-win for Vermont; farmers can sell to schools during the height of the growing season, and kids participating in the summer meals program—many of whom are at risk of hunger—will have greater access to local, nutritious foods.”

To learn more about the Food and Farm Initiative, visit www.vermontcf.org/localfood.

2015 FOOD AND FARM INITIATIVE GRANTS

These grants support work from July 1, 2015 to December 31, 2016.

Bennington County Regional Commission received $5,000 to support county-wide collaboration and planning by the Bennington Farm to Plate Council.

Center for an Agricultural Economy (CAE) received $67,375 to expand their line of lightly- processed Vermont-grown vegetables and market them to schools, child care, and senior centers.

Food Connects received $62,110 to stimulate innovation in the supply of local foods to Vermont schools through market research and product development, and to increase demand through the promotion of school meals.

Green Mountain Farm-to-School received $55,000 to increase the capacity and effectiveness of farm-to-school coordinators around the state.

Intervale Center received $8,828 to conduct research on local foods availability at independent grocery stores and interview store owners and managers to inform efforts to help stores stock more local foods.

Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA-VT) received $75,000 to provide training and resources to school districts, farmers, and food hubs about incorporating local foods and nutrition education into their school-year and summer meal programs. They will also pilot free summer meals for kids over the weekend at two farmers’ markets.

Northwestern Medical Center received $36,000 to strengthen Northwest Healthy Roots, a program designed to increase local food access and farm viability in Franklin and Grand Isle counties.

Rutland Area Farm and Food Link (RAFFL)received $45,000 to support a partnership between RAFFL and Vital Communities which aims to broaden the range of community members engaged in their regions' local farm economies.

Vermont FEED (Food Education Every Day), a partnership of Shelburne Farms and NOFA-VT, received $75,000 to support the Vermont Farm to School Network.

Vermont Food Bank received $5,000 to support VT Fresh. This grant is a match to donations raised through Vermont Restaurant Week.

Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets received $21,000 to document and communicate the economic value of farm to school on behalf of a Vermont Farm to School Network work team.

Vermont Housing and Conservation Board received $45,000 to increase the capacity of Vermont's food hubs and to increase food security and food access programming for families at affordable housing facilities.

GRANTS ANNOUNCED IN JANUARY 2015

These grants support work from January 1, 2015 to December 31, 2016.

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.