Donation will support Hunger Free Vermont’s efforts to strengthen and raise awareness about statewide summer meals program
Essex Junction, Vt. – Hannaford Supermarkets today announced a $125,000 donation to Hunger Free Vermont to assist the non-profit organization’s efforts to help alleviate childhood hunger and ensure that children throughout Vermont have access to healthy food this summer.
Hunger Free Vermont will utilize the funding to raise awareness about programs that provide food when school is out of session. According to the non-profit organization, only 25 percent of the 31,000 Vermont students who rely on school meals during the academic year participate in summer meal programs, prompting the effort to increase summer meal program participation.
Officials from Hannaford Supermarkets and Hunger Free Vermont gathered today to announce the donation at Essex Middle School in Essex Junction, Vt., a successful drop-in meal site for children during the summer school break. The announcement comes just days before the dismissal of students for February break, a time when other food resources are traditionally not available.
“Hannaford is deeply committed to making it as convenient as possible for all members of our community to have easy access to fresh and nutritious food. Hunger Free Vermont’s work to strengthen summer meal programs throughout the state is a perfect example of the effort to help remove the barrier of hunger that exists for children,” said Hannaford Supermarkets Community Relations Specialist Brian Fabre. “We hope this donation will allow Hunger Free Vermont to continue to strengthen summer meals sites so they continue to thrive and serve as a vital resource to families in need throughout the state.”
The donation from Hannaford will assist Hunger Free Vermont’s efforts to further educate the community and support summer meal sites through additional outreach and engagement efforts. Free, nutritious summer meals are provided to children through the federal Summer Food Service Program, which is administered by Vermont’s Agency of Education, at designated school and community sites open to all. In 2019, the Summer Food Service Program reached approximately 8,000 children per day at 273 summer meal sites throughout Vermont, which served more than 450,000 meals.
Hunger Free Vermont will also use the funding to help connect low income families with children to 3SquaresVT, which helps stretch dollars to keep healthy food options on the table at home when there are more meals to cover during the summer months. Additionally, the grant will support a promotional campaign designed to increase awareness about summer meal programs.
“We are so fortunate to have Hannaford as a partner in our strategic work to end the injustice of hunger and malnutrition,” said Hunger Free Vermont Executive Director Anore Horton. “Summer can be the hungriest time of the year. Hannaford’s investment will make it possible for us to greatly expand our efforts to connect many more Vermont families and kids with summer meal sites, 3SquaresVT, and farmers markets – creating a healthy and food secure summer for all.”
In 2019, the summer meals program at the Essex Westford School District, which includes Essex Middle School, served approximately 30,000 meals on a drop-in basis to children throughout the community. The district is working to increase the variety of options available to children by introducing hot meals during the 2020 season.
“The Essex Westford School District’s Child Nutrition Program is committed to strengthening our community by providing healthy and well-balanced meals to children year-round. Hunger does not take a summer vacation and this program provides children access to meals during the summer months. Thanks to a strong partnership with the Essex Junction Parks and Recreation Department, we have an excellent venue to reach a large population of children. Through their participation and support, we are hopeful that the program will continue to grow,” said Essex Westford School District Senior Child Nutrition Manger Scott Fay.
Hannaford Supermarkets has a longstanding commitment to supporting hunger relief in its communities. In November 2019, Hannaford announced an overall $1 million commitment, including $188,000 to the Vermont Foodbank, through its “Fuel Kids at School” program, which is designed to directly address food insecurity and improve access to fresh and healthy food in schools in New York and New England.
For more information about Hunger Free Vermont’s work to reduce summer hunger, visit HungerFreeVT.org.
About Hannaford Supermarkets
Hannaford Supermarkets, based in Scarborough, Maine, operates 182 stores in the Northeast. Stores are located in Maine, New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont. Hannaford employs more than 26,000 associates. Additional information can be found at Hannaford.com.