Over 80 people attended a free soup dinner, screening, and post-film discussion of the "engaging and enraging" documentary A Place at the Table on Tuesday, October 17.
Vermont Foodbank, Hunger Free Vermont, and Central Vermont Community Action Council representatives were on-hand after the film to give local context to what on a national scale has reached amazing proportions - 50 million hungry people!
Some facts on hunger and food insecurity in Vermont! These were shared by Hunger Free Vermont, CVCAC, and Vermont Foodbank at the event:
- The cost to live in Vermont is high! For 2 adults on minimum wage and 2 children who are availing themselves of all of the federal and state assistance they can, they still have a deficit of $1,000/month. Food is often the most flexible portion of the budget.
- Vermont is the 26th hungriest state in the United States. We haven't gotten any better than that in the last 2 years.
- Vermont has the highest number of homeless per capita.
- 85,000 Vermonters (25,000 of which are kids) are struggling with food insecurity. And 30,000 are actually hungry (they don't have enough food to put on the table period.
- 40% of students in Vermont schools are eligible for free lunches. Only 40% of those who are eligible are actually participating.
- Since CVCAC moved to its Barre City campus, they have seen an 84% increase in Food Shelf Utilization.
- CVCAC's Food Shelf is empty by the end of the day. They see a lot of people with health issues; sometimes the food they receive as donations is not healthy. When you're donating, think about how far a dollar goes (consider giving money!) and think about donating healthy food to eat; produce is welcome.
- The "charitable effort" to solve hunger pales in comparison to the US Food Stamp program which helps people purchase food at the grocery store when they need it. One boost to the Food Stamp program would equal 2 full years of every Foodbank in the nation operating at full capacity.
- The Vermont Foodbank recently lost the availability of 1 million lbs of food per year from a private grocery store donor who decided not to give anymore. The Foodbank does have a gleaning program that brings produce that would otherwise be turned under from 100 farms.
- Vermont has created the Farm Bill Nutrition Coalition to give the Vermont Congressional Delegation specific goals for legislation with regards to nutrition.
- On November 1st, serious cuts to SNAP are scheduled to take place. Read more here. Call your Vermont Senators to tell them we need their leadership on nutrition! Here is a link to Senator Leahy's website. And, call him in DC at (202) 224-4242.
What can you do to help?
1. Share your stories: What programs have helped you? Send them to Hunger Free Vermont. They share these stories with the Vermont Delegation.
2. Support legislation that helps alleviate the problem. Write letters to the editor, post on Facebook, or email your friends and family.
3. Use your debit card at the Farmer's Market instead of paying by cash; this helps the Farmer's Markets that do accept EBT/SNAP benefits to pay for the cost of having the machine.
4. Organize local food drives - healthy food!
5. Call your legislators. Calls are in some ways more effective than emails. They actually count phone calls! Here is a link to Senator Leahy's website. And, call him in DC at (202) 224-4242.
6. Join Granite City Grocery owners in registering for the 3SquaresVT Challenge. One week before Thanksgiving (Sunday, November 17th - Sunday, November 23rd), try eating on a Food Stamp budget. Then, commit to 1 action after taking the challenge. Granite City Grocery is organizing a group to take the challenge. Join us, document your experience write a piece about it in the media. Click here for the Challenge Facebook page. Click here to sign up for the Challenge. Actor Luis Guzman who lives in Vermont recounts his efforts to do the same here.
Hunger Free Vermont staffer Faye Conte prepares the bread, much of which was donated by Manghi's and Red Hen Bakery.
Jedd Kaminsky prepares the selzer.
Folks enjoy delicious soup prepared by a dozen GCG volunteers and CVCAC's Culinary Kitchen!