BRATTLEBORO >> One in five Vermont children experiences hunger or food hardship. In the United States, a country with so much wealth, it is inconceivable to many that there are people who struggle to meet their basic needs. And yet, hunger is a daily reality for Americans in every state. Lack of affordable housing, low wages, high unemployment, a decrease in the number of local, affordable grocery stores, and lack of public transportation all contribute to hunger and food insecurity in Vermont.
Everyone needs access to healthy food, and 3SquaresVT is there to help; in fact, one in eight Vermonters get 3SquaresVT benefits. A family of four earning up to $3,739 a month may be eligible, and households can have a savings account or an asset like a car or home and still qualify. 3SquaresVT food benefits can also be used to buy seeds and plants to grow your own fruits and vegetables. Seedlings can be purchased wherever EBT cards are accepted. Over 40 farmers markets across the state now accept 3SquaresVT for starter plants as well as fresh produce.
One of the great benefits of 3SquaresVT is that children in households receiving it also automatically qualify for free school meals. But once the school year ends, summer can be a difficult time for many families to meet their nutritional needs. Fortunately, free summer meal programs for children are offered in many communities. Visit www.hungerfreevt.org/summer-meals- sites to find a summer meals program, or call SEVCA at 1-800- 464-9951 for help locating a program.
For a list of participating stores and markets, or to apply for 3SquaresVT benefits online, visit www.vermontfoodhelp.com.
In Brattleboro, the Windham Southeast Supervisory Union is participating in the Summer Food Service Program for Children. Funded by the United States Department of Agriculture, the program is designed to ensure that children who rely on free or reduced price meals during the school year continue to have adequate nutrition throughout the summer. Meals will be provided to all children without charge and are the same for all children regardless of race, color, national origin, sex, age or disability, and there will be no discrimination in the course of the meal service.
Meals are available to all children 18 years of age or younger, Monday through Friday at Ledgewood Heights and Moore Court from June 21 through Aug. 19, with breakfast from 9:30 to 10 a.m. and lunch from noon to 12:30 p.m. At Living Memorial Park Pool, lunch will be served from noon to 1 p.m., Monday through Friday from June 21 to Aug. 12. At Westgate Housing, Monday through Thursday from June 27 through Aug. 12 lunch will be served from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and a snack will be served from 2:30 to 3 p.m. At Brooks Memorial Library, lunch will be served, Monday through Friday, from noon to 1 p.m. from June 21 to Aug. 19. From June 21 to Aug. 19, lunch will be served, Monday through Friday, from noon to 1 p.m. at the Boy's & Girl's Club. From July 5 through July 28, at Academy School, Monday through Thursday, breakfast will be served from 8 to 8:30 a.m. and lunch from noon to 12:30 p.m.
For additional information, contact Kira Sawyer-Hartigan at 802-254-3730 .To find a site near you or to get the most up to date information, contact 211 or visit hungerfreevt.org/summer-meals-sites.