Vermont Everyone Eats (VEE), the unique COVID-19 recovery program that provides Vermonters impacted by COVID with prepared meals made by Vermont restaurants using locally grown and produced ingredients, will continue through July 1, 2022. The program had previously been set to end on March 31st but will now continue due to FEMA’s 100% cost share being extended for existing COVID-19 relief programs.
While the health impact of the latest surge has recently receded, the long tail of the economic crisis continues to challenge restaurants, farmers, food producers, and individuals. The Vermont Everyone Eats program both feeds people and strengthens the state economy at the same time. Regional hubs purchase and distribute meals from local restaurants, and a statewide mobile app provides meal access to eaters directly from restaurants.
Since August 2020, Vermont Everyone Eats has provided over 2.25 million meals statewide, entirely paid for with nearly $30 million of Federal CARES Act and FEMA funding. More than 260 Vermont restaurants have participated. Over 37% of VEE meal ingredients from nearly 300 Vermont farms and food producers have been used by restaurants as part of a local purchasing requirement that spreads the economic benefit as widely as possible. Local purchasing has far exceeded requirements and is considered a major success in this program.
Southeastern Vermont Community Action (SEVCA), as Vermont Everyone Eats administrator, convenes a regional hub community of practice and a statewide task force of multi-sector leadership in order to guide the program. Locally governed hubs determine needs and resources in their region and connect directly with restaurants and eaters. Task force participants bring extensive experience with food insecurity programs, government agencies, economic development entities, and restaurant engagement. The effectiveness of the program’s cross-sector, whole systems approach may lead to long-term changes in federally-funded food access programs.
For more information on the program or how to receive a meal, visit the Vermont Everyone Eats website at https://vteveryoneeats.org/.