In the summer of 2015, the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf unveiled a new program, the Good Food Truck, designed to use the power of good, local food to feed people who are hungry, create opportunities for people who are under- or unemployed, and unite the community around the fight against hunger.
Partially inspired by the recent findings from the Vermont Foodbank’s Hunger in Vermont numbers, we were dismayed to learn that there are over 19,000 people who are food insecure in Chittenden County. Despite the fact that we are the largest direct service hunger relief organization in Vermont, the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf serves a little over 11,000 people per year. This illustrates a gap of around 8,000 people who are not currently receiving services from the food shelf.
To reach this group of people who are currently not receiving services, our new program, the Good Food Truck, brings free meals and a fun, festive atmosphere to our hungry and food insecure neighbors using a new 16-foot truck that is equipped to cook and serve meals in the road.
Starting in July 2015, the Good Food Truck hit the road to serve nutritious meals to low-income residents of Chittenden County at partner organizations and meal sites throughout the area. Clientele of the Good Food Truck with a household income at or below 185 percent of the federal poverty line are eligible for these free, delicious meals featuring globally inspired flavors and local ingredients.
The Good Food Truck carries information on vital community services like 3SquaresVT (food stamps), WIC, farmer’s market programs for low-income households, our homebound delivery program for low-income households, and veterans’ assistance services.
Additionally, students from Community Kitchen Academy, a partnership program operated by CEFS and the Vermont Foodbank since 2009, aid in Good Food Truck meal services by participating in valuable, on-the-job internships as they assist with food preparation and customer service.
The Good Food Truck also presents an opportunity for the Food Shelf to share our story with the broader community in a fresh, new way at several community events, catering engagements and fundraisers throughout the year. At these events, the Good Food Truck shifts from providing free meals to operating as a traditional food truck selling entrees, desserts and snacks from a fixed-price menu. One hundred percent of the proceeds from all sales go to providing free meals for low-income Vermonters.
The Good Food Truck can be found at several ArtsRiot Truck Stop events on Friday evenings, and at special events like the South End Art Hop. The Truck is also available for private catering engagements. Find special events, community truck stops, and take a peek at the Good Food Truck’s creative menu featuring treats like Japanese cabbage pancakes and falafel, on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and at www.goodfoodtruckvt.org.
Kelly Saunders is Development Director at the Vermont Foodbank.
The Community Health Investment Fund at the UVM Medical Center supports a wide range of community programs and initiatives that improve the health of our community. The fund is overseen by the Community Health Investment Committee, which is made up of both community members and hospital staff. We invest $800,000 annually in efforts that further the priority areas identified in the UVM Medical Center’s Community Health Needs Assessment. To date, we have supported 23 programs at 19 organizations across our service area in our current fiscal year. The 2017-2019 priority areas are: Access to Healthy Food, Chronic Conditions, Mental Health, Substance Abuse, and Supportive Housing.