Residents embark on 3Squares Challenge

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SOUTH BURLINGTON — Vermonters across the state are participating in Hunger Free Vermont's 8th Annual 3SquaresVT Challenge as part of National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.

Challenge participants have been asked to eat on the average 3SquaresVT budget for the full week, a day, or a meal — approximately $37 for the week for one person, $5.29 for a day, or $1.76 per meal.

The purpose of the Challenge is not to emulate the reality of food insecurity for Vermonters — many of whom may rely on a variety of programs and resources to meet their families' needs — but to instead draw attention to the experience of living on a strict food budget and how that may or may not change your daily life both physically and psychologically as a participant.

This year marks the 53rd anniversary of 3SquaresVT (formerly food stamps and known nationally as SNAP), which has helped decrease hunger in Vermont and across the nation. The programs helps lift millions of Americans out of poverty and creating a pathway to food security and economic self-sufficiency.

Currently, about 78,000 Vermonters participate in the program, but many more are eligible for this benefit.

With the Farm Bill up for reauthorization in 2018, 3SquaresVT and other nutrition resources are at risk for cuts. Each month, the program brings over $9 million in federal dollars into the state.

If 3SquaresVT is weakened, officials say thousands of Vermont seniors, people with disabilities, veterans, children, working families and struggling neighbors will be harmed. Additionally, Vermont will see more hunger, worse health and educational outcomes, and higher health costs.

The Vermont Farm Bill Nutrition Coalition is meeting regularly to prepare for reauthorization and to be ready to provide whatever advocacy necessary to protect nutrition programs including 3SquaresVT.

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