Legislature OKs funding for Vermont Everyone Eats beyond July 1

WESTMINSTER — Thanks to a $1.3 million allocation included by Vermont legislators in the final version of bill S.11, signed by Governor Scott on June 8, the groundbreaking Vermont Everyone Eats (VEE) program now has the necessary funding to continue to leverage FEMA support in providing Covid relief support for Vermont restaurants, farmers, and meal recipients.

Everyone Eats is a multisector Covid relief program providing economic support to local restaurants, economic benefit to farmers, and restaurant-prepared meals for food-insecure Vermonters affected by Covid. All three pillars of the program - restaurants, farmers, and eaters - continue to benefit significantly from the relief this program provides.

“Kudos to the many supporters in the Legislature who worked tirelessly to make this allocation possible,” Stephanie Bonin, executive director of the Downtown Brattleboro Alliance and program director for the Brattleboro Everyone Eats Hub, said in a news release. “The innovation and impact of VEE means $1 will be spent many times over, statewide. This is strong, sound policy in its ability to triply serve economic resilience in small businesses, the economic health of agriculture and food producers, and the hardest hit members of our community.”

In July 2020, the Vermont Legislature enacted the Restaurants and Farmers Feeding the Hungry program “to provide assistance to Vermonters who are food insecure due to the COVID-19 public health emergency by engaging Vermont restaurants that have suffered economic harm due to [this] emergency to prepare meals using foodstuffs purchased from Vermont farms and food producers.”

Vermont Everyone Eats has provided over 2.4 million meals since it began in August 2020.

Participating restaurants are required to use a minimum of 10 percent local ingredients grown or produced in Vermont, with many far exceeding that minimum, for a program-wide average of 35 percent local ingredients. More than 260 restaurants and 300 farmers have benefited from the program, which currently distributes 30,000 meals per week through 11 community hubs.

Beginning July 1, FEMA's Covid relief funding will shift from 100 percent federal funding to a 90/10 federal cost-share. The new allocation of state funding provides the 10 percent state match for Vermont Everyone Eats to continue for no more than one year, as long as there is both a federal pandemic emergency and a Covid-related need within the state.

The program has brought more than $31 million of federal revenue into the state to date.

For more information on the program, to find out how to access local meals, or to request the inclusion of a restaurant in this program, visit the Vermont Everyone Eats website at vteveryoneeats.org.

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