4.1: Food Security in Vermont Add to Collection

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Harvest at Vermont Food Bank farm. Photo: Vermont Food Bank

Hunger (i.e., a painful sensation caused by a lack of food) and food insecurity (i.e., an inability to access enough food to meet basic needs due to financial constraints) are issues of growing concern in this country. The U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service reports that the percentage of food insecure American households increased from 11.9% (over 15 million households) in 1995 to 14.3% (over 17.6 million households) in 2013. The percentage of very low food security households—households where some family members consumed less or eating patterns were disrupted due to limited resources at any time during the previous 12 months—increased from 4.1% (over 4 million households) in 1995 to 5.6% (over 6.8 million households) in 2013.

The percentage of food insecure Vermont households increased from an average of 9.1% (22,000 households) from 1999 to 2001 to an average of 13.2% (34,000 households) from 2011 to 2013.

Strategies for addressing food access generally fall into three categories: (1) supplemental assistance programs (often federally or state funded) to increase the consistency and nutritional quality of meals accessed by vulnerable groups; (2) using the emergency or charitable food system to meet the needs of citizens in crisis by providing food through food shelves and other mechanisms; and (3) community food security projects to focus on building communities’ capacities to feed themselves through job training, food and nutrition education, and infrastructure development. 

Leveraging resources to effectively and efficiently reduce food insecurity while continuing to develop Vermont’s food system economy is a formidable—but solvable—task.



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Resources

Retail training to boost local food sales

Take 5 is a series of 12 local food sourcing and merchandising training videos for Vermont retail stores to help increase local food sales. The Farm to Plate Independent Grocers Task Force launched the Take 5 series of five-seven minute training videos for convenience, general, grocery and other retail stores…

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Kale harvest at Good Heart Farmstead in Worcester, Vermont
Photo: Good Heart Farnstead

NOFA-VT Farm Share Program

Written by Kate Spring In 2013, writer Kate Spring and her husband started Good Heart Farmstead with the mission to make local food more accessible. Not only did they aspire to make it easier for people to find local food, but they wanted to make it easier for them to afford…

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Meat processing in Vermont
Photo: Over the Hill Farm

Gathering the Herd

Gathering the Herd: A Vermont Meat Processing Case Study captures lessons learned over a three year period from the Farm to Plate Meat Processing Task Force through interviews conducted by Carrie Abels with members of the task force and industry leaders. The Meat Processing Task Force within the Farm to Plate…

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Wellspring Farm
Photo: Corey Hendrickson

NEK Farms Rooted at Local Schools

Written by Shane Rogers Green Mountain Farm Direct, a food hub run by Green Mountain Farm-to-School, is working to connect local farmers with schools, restaurants, and institutions across northern Vermont to increase the farm’s sales and boost consumption of local food in institutions and the overall region. Those partnerships have created…

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Volunteers at the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf prepare fresh food donations
Photo: Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf

Food Recovery Feeds Vermont

Written by Helen Labun The University of Vermont may not be a traditional restaurant, but it moves a lot of food. Their dining units serve an average of 12,812 meals each day—enough to feed dinner to every resident of Montpelier with plenty left over for everyone to grab dessert and a…

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Berry picking is a low cost way to bulk up on local food.
Photo: Rooted in Vermont

Low Cost Local Food

Vermonters enjoy local food and beverages in a variety of ways—growing or foraging their own, purchasing directly from a farmer or at the store, hunting or fishing, eating at schools and institutions serving local food, finding food from a community food shelf or the Vermont Foodbank, or just by trading…

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Fall pumpkin harvest
Photo: Land For Good

Farmland investment companies

Written by Kathy Ruhf Farmland access and affordability are top obstacles for new and beginning farmers in New England and nationally. Many new farmers cannot afford to purchase land to start or expand their operations. At the same time nearly 30% of New England farmers will exit farming in the next decade.…

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Food preparation skills are developed through cooking for Meals on Wheels in the Cornucopia program in the NEK.
Photo: NEK Food System Plan

Food Justice on the Menu in the NEK

Written by Taylar Foster The Northeast Kingdom Food System Plan was re-released in December of 2016, marking a substantive update to Vermont’s only regional food system plan. The Center for an Agricultural Economy, the Northeastern Vermont Development Association, and a steering committee composed of Northeast Kingdom cross industry experts and social…

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Intervale Food Hub delivers fresh produce to UVM.
Photo: Intervale Center

Farm to Institution Lessons Learned

Written by Bobby Young For over 10 years, the Intervale Food Hub has been working with Sodexo and the University of Vermont to increase their procurement of local foods. The Intervale Food Hub, a social enterprise of the Intervale Center, works with nearly 40 Vermont producers to sell local food direct…

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Farm to School program gleaning at Pete's Greens
Photo: Center for an Agricultural Economy

Farm to School: Good for kids, economy & communities

Written by Betsy Rosenbluth Vermont has much to celebrate as a national leader in the Farm to School movement and it hasn’t happened by accident. Nearly a decade ago, in 2007, Vermont was one of the first states to pass a Farm to School bill. That legislation has supported more than…

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Healthy and local dining options at UVM Medical Center
Photo: UVM Medical Center

UVM Medical Center Advances Farm to Institution Goals

Written by Alison Nihart New research from the University of Vermont has quantified the economic impact of local food purchasing by the University of Vermont Medical Center. This study, the first of its kind in the state, shows how Vermont’s largest hospital is contributing toward Vermont reaching its institutional consumption…

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Vermont Commodity Program crew members bag potatoes at Salvation Farms’ facility in Winooski gleaned from Barber Farm in Jericho.
Photo: Salvation Farms

Training Workers, Rescuing Food

Written by Marcella Houghton Pick a food – and you are likely to find a Vermont-made version. From coffee to peanut butter, from to bread to beer, the abundance of edible goods with the Vermont brand is just one measure of how we value our state’s food system. But one place we’re…

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School Lunch at Edmund's Middle School
Photo: Hunger Free Vermont

Universal Free School Meals

Written by Alida Duncan Hunger Free Vermont’s vision is for Vermont’s school cafeterias and classrooms to be a welcoming place where all kids equally share meals together, and that school provide a learning lab for healthy eating—including exposure to local foods and creating localvores for life. This vision aligns with Vermont’s…

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Woodchuck Hard Cider employees pick for their neighbors
Photo: Vermont Foodbank

Pick for Your Neighbor

Written by Judy Stermer September is National Hunger Action Month, a time when food banks across the country work to mobilize the public to take action on the issue of hunger. But hunger in Vermont is a 365 day-a-year problem. In Vermont, the Foodbank provides food assistance to 153,000 Vermonters. Nearly…

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CRAFT greenhouse learning session in Addison County
Photo: NOFA VT

Fostering New Farmers

Written by Maria Buteux Reade A group of farmers gather in a pasture and stare intently at a young man struggling to push a long probe deep into the ground. He shakes his head sheepishly and hands off the penetrometer to the next volunteer. No luck for her either. The…

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Workers at Black River Meats (Springfield)
Photo: Black River Meats

Building Brands in Small Farm Food System

Written by Mark Cannella Published in Vermont's Local Banquet Small farms in Vermont contribute tremendous value to our evolving food system by being nimble enough to respond to shifting consumer demand quickly. Small farms have pioneered niche products, such as multi-variety mesclun mixes and hybrid CSA memberships. They are engaged in cutting-edge production…

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Maggie Atherton, an 8th generation future dairy farmer
Photo: Aires Hill Family Farm

New Generation Helps Preserve Dairy Farm

Written by Laura Hardie, New England Dairy Promotion Board Karie Thompson Atherton, 35, is the seventh generation to grow up on her family’s dairy farm in Berkshire, Vermont and always knew she wanted to continue the tradition of dairy farming. “There's definitely easier ways to make a living, but none as fulfilling,"…

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Green Mountain Farm-to-School AmeriCorps members teach food preservation at Old Stone House in Brownington
Photo: GMFTS

Nutrition & Local Agriculture in NEK Schools

Written by Shane Rogers, Green Mountain Farm-to-School Be on the lookout, AmeriCorps members serving with Green Mountain Farm-to-School (GMFTS) as farm-to-school coordinators are bringing place-based nutrition and agriculture education into schools across the Northeast Kingdom – 27 to be exact. Using original, grade-specific curriculum, created with the financial support from the Stony Point…

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Happy consumer at Nea-Tocht Farm during last year's Breakfast on the Farm
Photo: UVM Extension

Changing Consumer Local Food Perceptions

Written by Julie Smith, UVM Extension, Animal and Veterinary Sciences and Ted Ferris, MSU Extension, Animal Science The first Vermont Breakfast on the Farm event gave consumers and farm neighbors a first-hand look at modern food production. Hosted by Nea-Tocht Farm in Ferrisburgh in August 2015, the event was organized and…

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Grinding Masa! All Souls Tortilleria packaged tortillas are now available at City Market in Burlington VT
Photo: All Souls Tortilleria

Tortillas with Soul

Written by Sarah Bhimani, City Market, Onion River Co-op City Market, a community-owned food co-op in Burlington, VT, has a list of Global Ends that guides their business and all that they do. One of their Global Ends is “strengthening the local food system,” which is met through a myriad of…

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Seth Gillim and Mike Ingalls are managers of the Intervale Conservation Nursery, founded in 2002 and dedicated to growing native, locally sourced trees and shrubs for riparian restoration projects throughout Vermont.
Photo: Rachel Carter

Waterway Sidewalks: Native Trees & Shrubs

Written by Rachel Carter Published in Small Farm Quarterly Native trees and shrubs intertwine with one another, keeping 350-acres of flood plain intact along the banks of the Winooski River, best known as the Intervale. Located within the city limits of Vermont’s urban metropolis (42,000), Burlington boasts a solid urban farming culture,…

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A loan is helping kickstart Rob Rock’s agriculture machinery and fabrication business, a bonus for Vermont farmers in need of his custom farm equipment and metal-working services.
Photo: Farm Fund

Five Years of Funding Farms

Written by Caitlin Gildrien Published in Vermont's Local Banquet Early on a January morning in 2011, Pete Johnson of Pete’s Greens in Craftsbury heard a funny noise. When he looked out his window, he saw his barn engulfed in flames. The building and all of the equipment and product inside was in…

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Montpelier's farmers' market.
Photo: Rachel Carter

Market Trends

Written by Caroline Abels Published in Vermont's Local Banquet Over the past 10 years farmers’ markets in Vermont have burst forth like a backyard garden in July. Currently there are 63 markets in the Vermont Farmers’ Market Association, and a dozen or so that aren’t members. But every now and then you…

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The work crew at Chappelle's Potatoes.
Photo: CAE.

Vermont Veggies Find New Markets

Written by Alissa Matthews and Sarah Waring Vermont's Local Banquet There’s no vegetable more basic than a potato. This humble, tuberous root crop, Solanum tuberosum, grows in the dark, hidden from view most of the year, and emerges late when the air is frosty. It’s not as exciting as kale, not as…

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Salvation Farms' gleaning programs are changing lives through community engagement and food systems work.
Photo: Salvation Farms.

All Hands on Deck

Written by Suzanne Podhaizer Vermont's Local Banquet At some of Vermont’s correctional facilities, inmates are required to labor while serving time, so it’s not uncommon for those in the custody of the state to spend their days picking up trash on the side of the road or punching out Vermont license plates. But…

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Karyl Kent (Richmond Elementary), David Horner (Chittenden East), and Alison Forrest (Brewster Pierce Elementary, Huntington), school nutrition directors holding the new school cookbook they contributed to.
Photo: Caroline Abels

Cafeteria Cooking: A New Era In VT Schools

Written by Bonnie North We all know that “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.” Similarly, as any parent knows, you can put good, healthy food on kids’ lunch plates but that’s no guarantee they’ll actually eat it. But who can blame them? Consider what they’re…

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Good Food Good Medicine community meal.
Photo: Food Works

Good Food Good Medicine

Food Works at Two Rivers Center’s Good Food Good Medicine program takes a seasonal approach to good health and nutrition at two low-income housing sites in Barre. In the spring and summer months, residents at Highgate and Green Acres apartments grow their own food in community gardens or in raised…

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Grazing cattle on a cloudy day.
Photo: Maple Wind Farm.

Maple Wind Farm

At Maple Wind Farm in Huntington, the beef cattle “harvest their own feed,” as farmer Bruce Hennessey likes to say. They’re grass-fed cattle, meaning that for six and sometimes seven months of the year they eat grass on pasture, using their own energy to walk around and fatten themselves. Bruce, who…

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Farms Program class of 2009.
Photo: Intervale Center.

The Intervale Center's Farms Program

The Farms Program, a nationally recognized farm business incubator, has supported the growth of dozens of farms since 1990. Farms are accepted into the program after a rigorous application process that includes developing a business plan and presenting it to staff and existing Intervale farmers. New farmers have access to land…

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