Town and Village

Vermont Everyone Eats program comes to a close

WESTMINSTER — After 32 months, seven program extensions, and more than 3.6 million meals distributed, the Vermont Everyone Eats (VEE) pandemic relief program ended on March 31.

Vermont Everyone Eats (VEE) was funded through a contract provided by the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development to Southeastern Vermont Community Action (SEVCA), made possible by over $46 million in federal FEMA funding supplemented with a $1.3 million allocation from the Vermont Legislature, and advised by a Statewide Task Force, including perspectives from restaurants, economic development, and hunger relief advocates.

Between August 2020 and March 2023, VEE has benefited tens of thousands of Vermonters by providing economic stabilization for independent restaurants, strengthening their relationships with farmers and food producers, and contributing significantly to statewide anti-hunger efforts during a time when food insecurity hit record highs.

With its unique cross-sector approach engaging local restaurants in providing prepared meals with Vermont ingredients for community members in need, organizers said in a news release that the Vermont Everyone Eats program leveraged more than $46 million in federal COVID-19 relief funding.

According to Environmental Economist Elizabeth Schuster, VEE's multiplier effect - recirculating a single federal dollar across multiple local businesses - has likely catalyzed as much as $66 million in additional local spending.

At the start of the COVID-19 emergency, state agency representatives, local and regional anti-hunger advocates, and economic development organizations established this innovative, wide-scale, multi-sector emergency response.

Collaborating entities in creating and coordinating Vermont Everyone Eats in southern Vermont included Chester Helping Hands, Downtown Brattleboro Alliance, Food Connects, Hunger Free Vermont, MamaSezz, Southeastern Vermont Community Action, Springfield Family Center, The Collaborative, Wilmington Works, and others. More than 700 restaurants, farms, food producers, community organizations, and distribution partners participated throughout Vermont.

“The extraordinary impact of Vermont Everyone Eats was made possible by unprecedented collaboration among various entities across the state. The value of a multi-sector approach in efficiently combining efforts and resources informs a compelling model for future efforts,“ said Amanda Witman, VEE's Communications and Stakeholder Engagement Coordinator.

While multiple state and federal benefit programs are ending or decreasing, the economic challenges of the pandemic are still lingering for many individuals and businesses. However, the successes of VEE is spurring local partnerships to develop new ways to address community needs and creatively driving conversations around what comes next.

“Vermont Everyone Eats' COVID-19 efforts are coming to a close, but the innovation is still going strong,” says VEE Task Force member Stephanie Bonin. “VEE showed us that our impact can be huge when we come together to meet our collective needs. I am excited to keep restaurant entrepreneurs, chefs, and staff in the food security conversation, because we are a powerhouse for change.”

The VEE Task Force, in partnership with the Vermont Community Foundation, has funded several local initiative pilot projects to carry forward elements of the VEE model. The VEE momentum is also fueling other initiatives in communities across the state. For more information on VEE-inspired local initiatives, ongoing food resources, and program partners, visit the Vermont Everyone Eats website at

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