Foodworks is for Everyone
Christine Colascione is the Coordinator of Foodworks—Groundworks Collaborative’s food shelf program for anyone in need of food.
There is no question that the COVID-19 pandemic has increased food insecurity in Vermont. According to an estimate from Feeding America, due to rising unemployment and school closures, there has been an estimated 46% increase in the number of people accessing food assistance nationwide. Vermont will likely see an increase of 34,000 people accessing emergency food.
The silver lining is that this pandemic has also caused a surge in mutual aid initiatives, providing me with great hope in our ability as a community to be there for each other.
On both May 27th and June 11th, the Vermont National Guard distributed food to nearly 1,000 households respectively, with long lines of cars stretching far past the distribution site at Brattleboro Union High School. These events provided a visual reminder of the immense level of food insecurity in our community and helped many people—including many who may have never navigated the charitable food system before. The nature of the event also left many people without food after waiting in line for several hours—essential workers who couldn’t risk losing hours or their job to attend, and at-risk people, including homebound individuals with no one to pick up food on their behalf. These distributions are a temporary band-aid at best in preventing hunger. When the National Guard leaves town, how can we support each other for the long haul?
Foodworks is a free food distribution program of Groundworks Collaborative. You might know us as a food shelf, food pantry, or food bank. We think of ourselves as a redistribution service, meant for the community at large, for anyone who could use a little help putting food on the table.
On any given day, Foodworks rescues around 400 pounds of perfectly good food from area grocery stores. It is a well known statistic that half of all food in the U.S. is thrown away. This isn’t because of people not using up the food in their fridge—nationwide, our food system is set up to produce tons and tons of food, particularly subsidized food, and allowing so much of it to go to waste as the market demands. Often, food is thrown out at the store level because it is cheaper to absorb the cost than provide the labor to collect, deliver, and donate it to a food shelf like Foodworks. We need only look at what’s happening to Vermont dairy farmers and the dumping of milk in the wake of this pandemic to get a sense of the absurdity of market waste.
Simply put, Foodworks has the ability to feed a lot of people. With generous contributions from individuals, foundations and corporations, Foodworks is able to stretch to meet the increased need for emergency food in this community and neighboring towns. We would not want anyone to feel that by accepting food from Foodworks that they are taking it away from someone else who needs it more. This simply is not an issue.
Between the food we rescue from area grocery stores and that which we purchase at discounted wholesale prices from the Vermont Foodbank, Foodworks is able to stretch every dollar donated to feed hundreds of people every week.
The process of receiving food from Foodworks is simple. There is no pre-registration, income-verification, or any need to provide documentation. You can call or email us and we ask a few simple questions (such as household size and dietary preferences) necessary to tailor the food boxes to your needs. We try to provide enough food to last two weeks and there is no limit to how many times you can receive food. An incredible team of volunteers pack the boxes and deliver this food to people all around Brattleboro and surrounding towns.
We understand the stigma sometimes attached to receiving help. A major goal of ours has long been to eliminate that stigma as a barrier to accessing aid. Perhaps the small things we can all do to shift the narrative are to embrace a vision of community as a system of mutual support and to embrace the vulnerability of asking for help.
Whether you need just a little help to get through the week or are in need of long-term food support, Foodworks is here for you.
To request food:
Call 802-490-2412 or email CColascione@GroundworksVT.org
To make a donation: