From mom-and-pop diners to high-end establishments, restaurants play a key role in shaping the way consumers eat and think about food. They also play a role in the success of Vermont farms by featuring, and increasing the amount of, locally grown food that they purchase. Enhancing restaurant and farm partnerships is a win-win for the health of Vermont’s rural economy and the overall financial sustainability of rural communities. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants accounted for 3% of all local food purchases in Vermont, with at least $9.7 million flowing back to local food producers. As of this writing, the COVID-19 pandemic economic shutdown has hit restaurants hard: 30% of restaurants will not reopen according to current estimates. It will take time to rebuild lost restaurant livelihoods, jobs, farmer and chef relationships, and community gathering spaces, and without a dedicated and coordinated response, they may never return to pre-COVID levels.
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