Tag Archives: food access

USDA funds will increase access to fresh local foods in Vermont

NOFA-VT will receive $227,661 through USDA’s Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) grant program as part of Wholesome Wave’s $3.77 million grant

Fresh Produce
This funding will make a tremendous impact in the lives of the over 87,000 Vermonters who currently receive SNAP benefits every month,” says Erin Buckwalter of NOFA-VT.

NOFA-VT celebrates USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack’s announcement of $31.5 million granted through the Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) Program. The national nonprofit organization, Wholesome Wave, received a $3.77 million FINI grant, of which NOFA-VT is a sub-grantee. NOFA-VT will receive $227,661 through this award, which will be used to support increased access to fruits and vegetables for the food insecure of Vermont, while also benefiting small and mid-sized farmers in the region.

“This program is a key way that we help to bridge the gap in access for limited-income Vermonters to fresh, local and organic foods while supporting the viability of Vermont farms,” says Enid Wonnacott, Executive Director of NOFA-VT.

Since 1971, NOFA-VT has been committed to increasing the acreage of certified organic land in Vermont while also increasing the access of local, organic food to all Vermonters. The grant issued to NOFA-VT will increase affordable access to fresh fruits and vegetables for SNAP consumers across Vermont, while also supporting local agriculture.

“Over the last five years we have seen a tremendous increase in SNAP consumers looking for an outlet to use their SNAP benefits to support local farmers. With this FINI award, these consumers can more easily support Vermont’s local food economy while enjoying a bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables. This funding will make a tremendous impact in the lives of the over 87,000 Vermonters who currently receive SNAP benefits every month,” says Erin Buckwalter of NOFA-VT.

NOFA-VT received this award as a sub-grantee on a larger $3.77 million grant, which the nonprofit organization, Wholesome Wave, obtained from the USDA to support their national network of nutrition incentive partners. NOFA-VT is one of 32 community-based organizations that will join Wholesome Wave in this Large-Scale FINI Project. Wholesome Wave’s network is a robust community of innovation and learning, linking incentive programs through uniform data collection and evaluation to support the expansion and adoption of incentives through policy. Wholesome Wave’s project is one of many that received support as part of the total $31.5 million granted by USDA in this cycle. With the award from Wholesome Wave, NOFA-VT will implement incentive programs at over 40 summer and winter farmers markets across the state.

“We are thrilled to be working with such a diverse and competent group of incentive operators across the nation. This network brings together organizations ranging from a flourishing farmers market group to a large scale nonprofit, capitalizing on the grassroots expertise of community leaders, while also building regional and national impact that allows us to enact the kind of large-scale policy change we see in legislation like FINI,” says Wholesome Wave founder and CEO, Michel Nischan.

Wholesome Wave is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that strives to create a vibrant, just and sustainable food system. By making fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables affordable and available, we enable underserved consumers to make healthier food choices. Our innovative initiatives are improving health outcomes among low-income families, generating additional revenue for small and mid-sized farm businesses and bolstering local and regional economies. Our initiatives are implemented nationwide in collaboration with community-based partners at farmers markets, community health centers, hospital systems, food hubs, and retail outlets. Each year, our initiatives reach more than 50,000 underserved consumers and their families, as well as thousands of farmers. To learn more about Wholesome Wave visit http://www.wholesomewave.org or call 203-226-1112.

VT Fresh – Transforming the food environment at local food shelves

[by Andrea Solazzo, Gleaning and Community Outreach Coordinator at Vermont Foodbank]

Historically, charitable food organizations like food shelves and food banks were built around the availability of boxes and cans of shelf stable foods to provide vulnerable populations with an emergency food supply. Today, the face of hunger is changing and so is the type of food being offered to our neighbors in need. Many in Vermont seek food assistance, not just for emergencies, but on a regular basis. Last year 1 in 4 Vermonters, 153,000 people, turned to the Vermont Foodbank’s network of food shelves and meal service programs to feed themselves and their families. They turned to these programs 1.2 million times over the course of the year. The Vermont Foodbank recognizes that this changing face of hunger demands a new level of responsibility, a responsibility to provide the most nutritious and healthy food available.

Vermont Fresh
What would happen if the food shelf was filled with the comforting and welcoming smells of sautéed onions and garlic and visitors had a chance to taste a particular vegetable they thought they didn’t like?

VT Fresh is a Vermont Foodbank program that aims to answer some intriguing questions:

  • What would happen if the food shelf environment was set up to encourage people to choose more fruit and vegetables?
  • What if fruit and vegetables were displayed in a more visible, attractive and even beautiful way- including vibrant signage, produce banners, and shelf labels like you might see at a farmers’ market?
  • What would happen if the food shelf was filled with the comforting and welcoming smells of sautéed onions and garlic and visitors had a chance to taste a particular vegetable they thought they didn’t like?

VT Fresh uses behavioral economics research to try out some new and creative strategies. Behavioral economics confirms that displaying healthy foods more prominently and attractively draws attention to them and may influence choosing healthy food over unhealthy food and increase their consumption. Simply providing people with a greater variety of healthy foods increases the consumption of them. And, food is great way to connect with people. Offering tastings and cooking demos encourages conversations about food, including the sharing of ideas and stories about what we eat and where our food comes from.

In 2015, the Vermont Foodbank will:

  • Partner with 15 local community organizations to implement VT Fresh and help transform the food environment of their food shelf
  • Deliver 200 cooking demonstrations
  • Engage 2,000 participants
  • Distribute 30,000 pounds of produce to participants
  • Measure that 40% of participants liked a specific vegetable more after the taste test than before

The Foodbank works with 225 partnering food shelves and meal sites around the state. They have hopes to expand to additional sites in 2016 with the specific goal of making fresh and local food accessible to all Vermonters and connecting our communities more deeply to the food we eat and with one another.

Share the Harvest on October 2!

STH14-socialYou’re invited! We are pleased to announce our collaboration with approximately 70 restaurants, food markets, and food cooperatives throughout Vermont for the 20th annual SHARE THE HARVEST fundraising event. On Thursday, October 2nd, participating restaurants and food stores will donate a percentage of their sales to NOFA-VT’s Farm Share Program.

Our Farm Share Program is dedicated to working with Vermonters who cannot afford to purchase fresh, local produce on a regular basis. All funds raised on October 2nd will benefit these individuals by subsidizing the cost of farm-fresh produce from local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms.

The Farm Share program has been helping limited-income Vermonters purchase food from local farms since 1994. In those 20 years, thousands of individuals and families have benefited from a season’s worth of locally grown vegetables and fruits as well as farm education initiatives. In 2014, we have served over 1,400 individuals and families, leveraging over $73,000 of income for Vermont farmers.

For a listing of participating restaurants, co-ops, and food stores, and to learn more about the Farm Share program visit our website or call NOFA-VT at 802-434-4122.