Putney 100 Percent Campaign sets goal of food and fuel security for all in town

PUTNEY — Three organizations - the Putney Foodshelf, Putney Community Cares, and Senior Solutions - have come together to launch a campaign to ensure that all town residents are both food and fuel secure.

According to a joint news release announcing the Putney 100% Campaign, this is to be accomplished through “an intense, community-based, collaborative effort designed to reach each household in the town with clear, concise information through trusted communication channels as to the availability of resources and to assist them in participating, applying, and obtaining these benefits.”

One of the challenges experienced through the COVID-19 pandemic is that while many food programs have been made available, changes in delivery have presented communications issues.

The partnership has developed a logo to create local awareness for all activities in the campaign. During September, every household in town will receive a personally addressed letter briefly describing these food resources.

Included in the letter will be a 4 in. {x} 9 in. card listing the hours and location of the three organizations, contact information, and services provided by each. It will address both food and fuel resources.

This information will also be made available at town institutions. Volunteer staff from the three agencies will be promoting the campaign at town events such as the Farmers' Market.

The timing of the campaign coincides with the Putney Foodshelf's “Fill the Foodshelf” campaign, which encourages residents to purchase cases or half-cases of products from a list available at the Putney General Store and the Putney Food Co-op.

“In essence, this is an effort designed to draw in the entire Putney community - both those who could benefit from assistance, and those who are able to assist their neighbors through supporting strong community organizations,” organizers say.

The Foodshelf will continue curbside shopping every Saturday from 9 to 10:30 a.m. at the Putney Community Center, 10 Christian Square. Shoppers select free items from an ever-changing choice of produce, meat, dairy, eggs, and nutritious shelf-stable items.

Shoppers remain in their cars while orders are completed. No fee is charged. Deliveries can be arranged for those who cannot appear personally.

Unfortunately, for many, a stigma is attached to food benefits.

According to Senior Solutions 3SquaresVT Outreach Specialist Thom Simmons, “More than 60 percent of Windham County seniors who are eligible for food and fuel benefits do not participate in these programs. We need people to understand that participation in these programs actually helps strengthen local communities and their economies.”

State and federal data show that more than $9 million is added to the Vermont economy each month through the 3SquaresVT food program alone.

Simmons said that by promoting fuel security and food security resources together, residents are often more receptive to participating in both programs.

“Who wants to turn away a discount on their home heating bill during a Vermont winter?” he asked.

Fuel Assistance and 3SquaresVT can both be requested on the same application. A new program, “3Squares in a SNAP,” permits unemployed seniors who are 60 and older to use a simplified, three-page application. Benefits are good for three years for those who qualify.

Programs for food and fuel assistance are not limited to seniors.

Any income-eligible resident of any age can apply for these and other programs through Putney Community Cares, where Community Advocate Kate Kelly can assist with application support for essential services, including Meals on Wheels for seniors, people with disabilities, and their spouses and caregivers.

The mission of Putney Community Cares is to “foster the health, well-being, and independence of all members of our community, from newborns to our most senior, by strengthening family and community bonds.”

As such, the organization can serve as the first point of contact for any resident facing challenging living situations.

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